In keynote speeches at a Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights conference, Western President Sabah Randhawa and Associate Dean of Woodring College Karen Dade shared stories and ideas about how societal issues can be solved.
The conference, hosted by the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, took place at Whatcom Community College Saturday, Jan 14.
Randhawa shared the importance of communicating and overcoming differences in order to help close the divide on issues that America faces.
“I don’t know what Dr. King would do or recommend to us if he were alive today, but I do think part of our way forward requires bridging the impersonalizing, divisive and isolating forces at work in contemporary life,” Randhawa said. “We must reach out to engage, listen, empathize and acknowledge the humanity of others.”
“I understood if we didn’t stand up for justice, it would not come on it’s own.”
Dade had an interactive conversation about MLK Jr. and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Dade participated in protest marches alongside her father at the age of seven. During the conference she sang the same songs with the audience the marchers sang years ago.
“I understood if we didn’t stand up for justice, it would not come on it’s own,” Dade said.
Although the 1960s changed the United States, racism, sexism and inequality are still prevalent today, Dade said. Her speech was meant to inspire the younger generation to consider taking leadership roles.
President Randhawa discussed how difficult it can be to help someone understand another point of view. David Crook of Western’s Technology Services Group, agreed with this idea.
“Randhawa pointed out in his speech that those lines are drawn. You live inside your bubble and you don’t really get outside of it,” Crook said.
On Tuesday, Jan. 17, Western will honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with an event called “The Danger of Silence,” featuring writer Clint Smith III. The event is free and open to the public, and will be held in the Performing Arts Center Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m.