I enjoyed the university's celebration ceremony of Martin Luther King Day ... until the Rev. James Lawson spoke.
Before I explain why, I want to set the record straight. I admire King. His legacy is a testament to America's greatness. Only in this country could people act together to fight for their God-given natural rights. King's legacy is a testament to the strength of our democratic republic.
With the record straight, I want to bring to your attention the remarks made by Lawson this past Monday. Even though I disagree with Lawson on his absolutist stance on nonviolent means for conflict resolution, I admire his leadership. Lawson knew King personally, which is why he is such a quality speaker for an occasion such as MLK Day. This is exactly why I believe the Office of the Chaplaincy chose him to speak this year.
Yet, for a day which is set aside to recognize MLK's legacy, I thought he would have told the audience about the King that he knew as a person. Instead, Lawson did a great disservice to and misrepresented King's legacy.
Throughout his entire speech, nowhere do I remember hearing about Lawson's impressions and stories of the King that he knew. He instead decided to focus on topics of a controversial and divisive nature in an event commemorated to remembering the legacy of a great American.
First, he blatantly stated that the Feds killed King. A commemoration of a great man's legacy is not a proper time to discuss conspiracy theories. Every famous assassination in history has its own conspiracy theories; even some that say the Feds killed Kennedy. Lawson can say and believe whatever he wants, but for an event such as MLK Day, throwing out conspiracy theories is not appropriate.
Second, Lawson also remarked on Iraq War policy. Again, he can say what he wants to and I can beg to differ with him, but bringing up controversial political matters during a commemoration of a man's legacy is extremely inappropriate and uncalled for.
Regardless of whether or not I disagree with him, I would have been just as disturbed had he spent 10 minutes supporting Iraq policy.
With this in mind, I strongly suggest to the Office of the Chaplaincy and the university community to be more conscientious of this matter next year and to make sure the speaker will stay on topic and speak only of Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy. Dr. King's memory deserves no less.