Brandeis University honored the famous civil rights activist and reverend this past Monday by hosting the sixth annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Interfaith Service from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Usdan.
The day began with brief introductions from Rabbi David Finkelstein of Temple Beth Israel and Padre Ángel Marrero of Santuario Luterano. Joel Burt Miller ’16 performed a spoken word piece. Co-sponsored by Brandeis’ Multifaith Chaplaincy, the Waltham Group and Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (CMM), the day was designed to focus on three things: service, interfaith and Dr. King.
CMM is Boston’s oldest interfaith action network. Created during the Civil Rights Movement, this year will be the 50th anniversary of the organization’s founding. The word interfaith is meant to call to mind the relations between various religions, whether through dialogue, service, peacemaking or prayer.
The feature event of the day was the packaging of the meals. Coordinated by Outreach Inc., 300 participants, including about 50 Brandeis students, collaborated to package nutritious macaroni and cheese meals that will be distributed to food shelters in the Greater Boston area. According to Community Service Specialist Brian Quigley, “Many of the rest [of the participants] were high school students who were members of local youth groups.”
This is the fourth consecutive year that Brandeis has packaged meals. In the first year, about 6,000 meals were prepared; in the second, 11,000; last year produced 12,000 meals. This year, not only were there record-breaking numbers of volunteers, the participants assembled the most meals yet: 17,000. Protestant chaplain Reverend Matthew Carriker mentioned that they had more meals than shelters to which to donate.
Carriker felt that these event embodied Dr. King’s philosophy of spreading peace and love. He said, “[Martin Luther King, Jr.] talked about this unconditional love. There’s no limits, no boundaries, no conditions.”
The meal-packaging event was complemented by a “fair” featuring seminars and dialogues about several topics relevant to the day. According to Quigley, “Participants engaged in discussions about housing discrimination, interfaith beliefs, diversity and culture, hunger and homelessness and immigration.”
The fair closed with reflections by Rabbi Finkelstein, Padre Marrero and Imam Abdallah Ddumba, Bentley University’s Muslim chaplain, as well as the singing of the song, “Peace, salaam, shalom.” In the evening, the fair was followed up with performances by Jamele Adams, Kaos Kids and Nyah Mackin ’16. The keynote speaker of the evening, Clennon King, also offered a brief introduction to his hour-long film, “Passage at St. Augustine.”
Rev. Carriker’s goal for the day was to get the students to see how meaningful service can be. He said, “Actually, the most meaning is found as we give of ourselves and serve others.” Carriker also hoped that students would think more deeply about Dr. King and what his accomplishments truly mean.
He said, “I think his legacy lives on as we think about social justice and what are the pressing issues of our day. As they were saying in last night’s event, he wasn’t just focused on race. He talked about hunger and poverty. He had a very holistic vision. He spoke out against the war. He was a non-violent revolutionary.”
Quigley expressed his satisfaction with the events and felt that the high school students in attendance had been positively affected. He said, “Many mentioned that they enjoyed being able to give back to their community and hope to continue to do so more in the future. Others expressed that they learned the importance of having an open mind and promoting ideas of peace. It was great to hear that many young men and women were able to use the day as a learning experience.”