Misericordia University will host a series of special events throughout January and February to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and recognize February as Black History Month.
Misericordia University will launch the celebration on Monday, Jan. 21, with an ecumenical prayer service calling for peace and understanding in the world. The service at 12 p.m. in the University Chapel in Mercy Hall will feature traditional prayer offerings and blessings by leaders from numerous faiths and religious traditions. Coordinators are Sister Jean Messaros, RSM, vice president for Mission Integration, who will represent the Mercy Catholic tradition, and Rev. Jim Calderone, OFM, Ed.D., professor emeritus of social work, who will represent the Independent Catholic tradition.
Also on Monday, the university will present the film, "King in the Wilderness," the first of two films on race, at 6 p.m. in Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall. A discussion, under the direction of Ryan Watson, Ph.D., assistant professor of film and visual media in the Department of Fine Arts, will follow. Directed by Peter Kunhardt, the 2018 HBO film offers a portrait of King during the last years of his life, from his part in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to his assassination in 1968.
On Wednesday, Jan. 23, the Northeast Pennsylvania Ethics Institute at Misericordia University will sponsor the panel discussion, "Immigration in Central America," at 5 p.m. in Alden Trust Room 219 of Sandy and Marlene Insalaco Hall. The panel will address immigration issues in the United States in the context of building and nurturing Dr. King's "Beloved Community." Immigration is one of the critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy, who founded Misericordia in 1924.
The panel includes Rodrigo Gereda, a Guatemala native who has lived in Mexico, and is a trained conflict mediator and advocate for justice in the local Latino community. Panelist Maria Vega is the mother of two teenagers forced to leave her home, profession and extended family due to the lack of food available for her children. Panelist Arisa Lucia Gereda lived in Central America for two years following an extensive fellowship from Vassar College and has firsthand knowledge of people who feel their only option is to walk across the continent in search of asylum. In addition, Sister Mary Ellen Brody, RSM, has lived and ministered in Honduras and on the United States border with Mexico, and has extensive experience in the field of Central American and Latin American immigration. Dr. Calderone, director of the Ethics Institute, will serve as moderator for the program.
The program, "Human Trafficking: A Survivor's Story," will be presented on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 12:30 p.m. in Huntzinger and Alden Trust Rooms 218-219 of Insalaco Hall. Speaker Evelyn Chumbow, an activist against modern day slavery and a survivor of human trafficking, will share her experiences. A native of the West African nation of Cameroon, Chumbow was sent by her parents to the United States to receive an education, but was held as a personal slave. After seven years in captivity, Chumbow escaped, enrolled in GED courses and attended community college. She currently studies homeland security at the University of Maryland University College. Her trafficker has been jailed for his actions. Chumbow has been featured on CNN and ABC regarding her trafficking experiences.
Throughout MLK Week, participants are encouraged to tweet their own pledges or Dr. King-inspired thoughts with the hashtag, #MUDream, and to tag @MisericordiaU.
Misericordia will observe February as Black History Month beginning on Friday, Feb. 15, with the presentation, "Is Everyone Racist? Understanding Subtle Prejudice in the U.S. Today." The talk by Wind Goodfriend, Ph.D., is at 12 p.m. in Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall. Dr. Goodfriend is a social psychology professor who will discuss various forms of racism and how psychology attempts to measure racism in increasingly implicit ways. The talk will feature research that asks whether racism is simply part of being human – and if so, what solutions psychology can offer.
Dr. Goodfriend is a professor of psychology and the assistant dean of graduate programs at Buena Vista University, Storm Lake, Iowa, where she has earned the Faculty of the Year award three times. She has produced three textbooks through Sage Publications, and has written dozens of scholarly book chapters and journal articles on issues of prejudice, relationship violence, and the overlap between psychology research and popular culture.
The second of two films on race, "I Am Not Your Negro," will be screened on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. in Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall. In 1979, author and social critic James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, "Remember This House." The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin's death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of the manuscript. Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished in the 2016 Academy Award-nominated film.
For more information about the events scheduled for Dr. Martin Luther King Week and Black History Month, please contact the Mission Integration Office at (570) 674-1877 or visit www.misericordia.edu/mlk.