Since its conversion into a formal campus event in 2006, Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies Magali Roy-Fequiere has intended the Martin Luther King convocation to be both “celebrating and instructive.”
Each year, the convocation features speeches, poetry and choral singing, as well as a Knox professor as its keynote speaker. There are no restrictions on the speaker — by department or any other factor — and it is entirely voluntary.
“We could pay someone a couple thousand dollars to come talk, but why should we?” Roy-Fequiere noted. “Some schools invite outside speakers – our vision is different.”
Though the convocation typically includes choral singing, Roy-Fequiere said it was only limited by the ideas provided by members of the Knox community.
“The activity has many moving parts,” she said, and mentioned her vision of a dance tribute to be worked into the convocation in the coming years.
“We’re so lucky [Chair of Music] Laura Lane and the Knox Choir always perform,” Roy-Fequiere said. There are also student poets, recommended by professors.
The convocation is also used for advertising by the Admissions Department, whose Winter Open House matches up with the tribute to King.
As Roy-Fequiere pointed out, it’s also open to the Galesburg community, remaining true to King’s spirit of inclusion.
The central role of the convocation is to discuss his modern-day legacy, which Professor Roy-Fequiere noted included “nonviolence, activism and his idea of a more just society.”
“I see MLK as this great figure, who truly affected noticeable changes in the U.S. and in the world,” she added.
She also noted that King’s legacy of “nonviolence and non-cooperation with an unjust system has left its mark all over the world,” and continues to inform the “ongoing debate” over the necessity of violence in revolutionary movements.
King and his legacy were so influential that “we expect political actions to be nonviolent.”
However, “because we are a country with the challenge of [global] military action, we are faced with this reality. It is incumbent upon us to face this legacy of nonviolence.”