“This is Going to Require Some Sweat”
By Delaney Cummings
President McInally’s opening address at the 2015 MLK Conference included that statement, and it couldn’t be more true. Seeking and fighting for social justice is not easy. It can require waking up at 8:00am to learn about social issues. It can require sitting in a jail cell for something you believe in. The President prepared conference participants to enter a mindset where we were ready to have difficult conversations, think about sad events, and attempt to better the world.
In addition to McInally’s speech, Geneva Williams ’02 spoke to the audience about Emmet Till, and the disturbing aspects of social justice issues. Coinciding with McInally’s speech, Williams showed students, faculty, and staff that social justice can lead to pain if people do not try to stop it. It is not pretty. It is not easy. It requires extra effort, but in the long run, hopefully the world will become a little less sad. After Williams spoke, I heard Erik Albinson speak about being an ally. Albinson emphasized that anyone can act as an ally, even if that means politely calling a friend out in the caf who may have said something racist or offensive. At the end of the conference, Charles Cotton III ’13 spoke. His perspective was interesting, as he is a recent Coe graduate and yet also a rising professional. He could relate to every person he was speaking to.
Just like last year, I came away from the conference wanting to better the world. Every speaker was inspiring. They were not just speaking at the audience. They were having a conversation with us. They were not just preaching what they have heard might be a good way to treat social justice issues. They are actually practicing activists. This makes them all the ultimate inspirations.