By Cory Phare
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. understood that life-giving water holds potential to be placid and potent, resilient and renewing, fluid yet forceful.
In his historic “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington, King declared: “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” That famous simile inspired the theme of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s 2020 MLK Peace Breakfast celebrating King’s life and legacy: “The Act of Fluidity.”
The event, which dates back to 1992, honored the work of community leaders and advocates. The winners of the University's MLK Peace Award were: Rosemarie Allen, associate professor of early-childhood education; Khadijatu Fofanah, nutrition student (pictured above with her daughter); Netty Rodriguez, associate director of the Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy; and Women of Color group founders Cynthia Baron, assistant dean for equity and student engagement; Andrea Borrego, assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology; Bridgette Coble, director of student career engagement; and Hsiu Ping Liu, professor of biology and director of the Center for Advanced STEM Education.
In his keynote speech, Omar Montgomery, director of black student services at CU Denver, addressed the potential for water to bring both tragedy and hope – and how civil-rights leaders such as King were able to ride the waves of uncertainty to higher ground.
“These people were doing off the top of their heads and out of their faith – there was no playbook,” Montgomery said. “They said, ‘If we can do this, imagine what else we can do.’”
While people may fight for hierarchy, ultimately we are humbled by the necessity of water and its promise, said Sakiynah Wise, an MSU Denver communication design student who designed the program for the event held Friday in the Tivoli Turnhalle.
“Water is smooth, calm and tenacious; it’s a peaceful yet powerful force for change,” she said. “Flow into your purpose with all your might, knowing that your purpose uplifts and carries another.”
The event's focus on fluidity was reflective of King’s missive that continues to this day, said Amber Mozet, assistant director for equity and student leadership and event emcee.
“Gains in equity and liberation come from that continued work, shifting as water around a rock in the river,” she said.
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