Grinnell College is commemorating an address on campus 40 years ago by Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Junior with a symposium all this week. Wayne Moyer is the director of the college’s Public Affairs program and organized the symposium. Moyer says King’s speech came at a turbulent time in history, just six months before King was assassinated.
Moyer says the title of the speech was "Remaining Awake in a Revolution." "And what I think he was doing at that stage of the game was saying to people, that we’re living in a world of dramatic change and too many of you are not doing enough, you’re asleep if you would during the revolution, and you need to wake up and see what’s going on around you," Moyer says. Moyer says they’re comparing King’s speech to today’s world.
Moyer says King identified three areas where dramatic changes were going on, technology, human rights and the war in Vietnam. Moyer says there are similar themes today with the war in Iraq, there are still major changes taking place in technology, and while he says Civil Rights problems aren’t as bad as they were then, there are human rights questions. One of the speakers is Grinnell alumnus and journalist Robert Hodierne, who covered Vietnam, and Iraq.
Moyer says Hodierne will compare the two wars and talk about the similarities and differences. Moyer says there will also be discussions on religion, human rights, and a panel of students who were on campus in 1967 when King gave his speech. He says they’ll talk about how the students understood the speech in the context of their time and what lasting meaning the speech has had for them. The symposium runs all this week on the campus in Grinnell.