The Beloved Community Initiative is a partnership between VT and Virginia Union University to explore and advance Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s conception of the Beloved Community in the 21st century. In 2017, the VT-VUU partnership launched the inaugural Beloved Community Initiative Essay Contest. The essay contest invited junior and senior high school students to choose one set of historical figures and prepare an exploration of those two (or three) persons, focusing on how the legacy of their life’s journey came together to advance the Beloved Community.
On November 27, 2018, The VT-VUU Beloved Community Initiative will celebrate the essay contest winners. The event will feature two panels on:
the history of the Civil Rights movement through the lens of the winning essays; and
understanding contemporary forms of structural inequality implications for creating systems of economic and social justice, paradigmatically captured in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for a “Beloved Community.”
On Wednesday, May 9, at 7:00pm, Dr. Virgil Wood (the 2018 VT Graduate Commencement Speaker), Prof. Harvey Cox (Hollis Professor of Divinity, Emeritus, Harvard University), and I will hold a public conversation on The Role of Dr. King, Jr.’s Ethics & Kelso’s Economics in Creating a Workable Society. Prof. Cox will be joining the conversation via video conference.
The event will be held in the SolitudeRoom at the Inn at Virginia Tech. Please share this announcement with students and community groups who may find this subject of interest. The event will provide attendees with a unique opportunity to engage with Dr. Wood and Dr. Cox, who have spent their lives working to advance economic and spiritual development across the nation.
At around 6pm today, it will be 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It will also mark the end of the 2018 Beloved Community Initiative (BCI) Essay Contest. To thank the students of Virginia for participating in the essay contest, Dr. Virgil A. Wood (who worked with Dr. King, Jr. and his father), Dr. Sylvester Johnson (Professor and Director of the Center for the Humanities, Virginia Tech), and Dr. Corey Walker (Vice President, Dean and Professor of Religion and Society, Virginia Union University) held a webinar this morning – as part of the MLK Jubilee Summit – in which they explored the legacy of Dr. King, Jr. and provided their thoughts on what this legacy means for the students of today. A recording of this webinar is provided below.
The essay contest (described in the video below) was designed to provide junior and senior students at high schools across Virginia with the opportunity to explore exemplars of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s notion of the Beloved Community – a community based on social and economic justice and a common love for fellow human beings. Dr. King, Jr. often thundered “The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice,” quoting American Bards of generations gone. Dr. Wood’s life-long search for the elusive promised land of the American Dream led to the realization that at every point where the moral arc did bend, even ever so slightly, there stood a pair, or in some cases triplets, of Black and White ancestors of the Beloved Community. Sometimes these ancestors were not contemporaries, but they can be linked by the spirit they exemplified. Through their essays, students were challenged to explore the connections between these ancestors and to consider how they helped advance the notion of the Beloved Community. In the coming weeks, a review panel will select four winning essays that will be showcased at an event this fall.