Campus community 'locks arms for peace' in silent walk
Students, professors & staff took part in a Friday walk to honor the civil rights struggle while pledging to combat remaining oppression.
The latest in a series of Elon University events honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. took place Friday when students, professors and staff members joined in the "Lock Arms for Peace" Beloved Community Peace Journey through campus.
Called a "symbolic burial of violence and oppression," walk participants held small rocks they were asked to inscribe with words describing burdens they faced. The route looped from Boney Fountain by the side entrance to Moseley Center, down to Haggard Avenue, and back along Young Commons to the main entrance of Moseley.
Originally scheduled for late morning, the walk was moved to mid afternoon due to inclement winter weather the night before that had delayed the opening of the university.
"We wanted our students to have an experience where they walk away and can effectively lead these kind of demonstrations and conversations that oftentimes can be difficult," said Leon Williams, director of the Multicultural Center at the university. "And we want them thinking about the burdens that wear you down, and the trying times we've had as a nation and as a people."
Once back inside, the group formed a circle in Hearth Lounge, and the 18 participants placed their rocks on the floor before them. University Chaplain Jan Fuller encouraged the group to begin thinking of ways to transcend the words of burden written on the rocks.
"It's one thing to know about (the burdens) and share them, but what we want to do is move to the hope for this pile of stones, the hopes for this world," Fuller said.
Moments later, in a show of optimism, walk participants pledged on bright note cards ways they would seek to better the world. Pledges included broad ideas like "pray" and "love one another" to specific actions like "petition against laws that promote sexism" and "volunteer at local shelters and kitchens."
Those pledges were posted to a board in Hearth Lounge for passersby to read.
The Peace Journey was among several events scheduled from Jan. 15-21, 2013, to honor King, an American civil rights pioneer slain in 1968. Programs earlier in the week included a special College Coffee and a commemorative program featuring remarks from a professor of social justice from Vanderbilt University.
A service day is scheduled for Monday. Interested volunteers are invited to McKinnon Hall inside Moseley Center at 9 a.m.