Posts Tagged tolerance

Papaw on MLK: Historical Memory

Here’s an exciting fact: On Saturday May 7, 2011 I officially graduated from the University of Indianapolis with a BA in Communication (nothing cum laude.) Per usual, the graduation ceremony was filled with an electric anticipation and a general sense of relief. I even lucked out and got a spot in the first two rows, just by taking one extra Spanish class. (Let that be a pro-tip to you up-and-coming learners who may be reading this: take what you’re good at and lots of it, you may end up with a BA and a first class seat at graduation.) The excitement is compounded when you consider we were part of the University’s largest graduating class ever, including over 940+ recipients.

Glitter .gifs Make Everything Exciting

The only disappointment: Our commencement speaker was someone I had NEVER heard of…ever. The Reverend Dr. Kent Millard- I came to find out via the program- was a graduate of Boston University’s seminary and was a local United Methodist minister. After receiving the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree- graciously granted by the University of Indianapolis- Dr. Millard proceeded to address the graduating student body with a speech entitled “Passion+Vision=Transformation.” In the allegorical address, he related to us a winded story about his efforts with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama, where he helped the Civil Rights movement advocate for voting rights for black citizens in the south.

Admittedly, I was not interested in this speech. The story itself was labored, and Dr. Millard was a bit too stentorian for my taste. He even relayed a story to us that he himself admitted had nothing to do with the topic. All I wanted to do was graduate, not listen to how someone had mistaken him for Rudy Giuliani on a plane. I apologize Dr. Millard, I’m sure your services are enthralling on Sunday mornings, but I wasn’t feeling this at all.

After a surprisingly quick distribution of diplomas- marked by back-flips, animal calls, and an explosive audience- I regrouped with my family to get ready to go have lunch. I was very fortunate to be able to share the day with my father-who is currently working in the United Arab Emirates- my mother and sister, who live in Wisconsin, and my paternal grandparents who drove up from southern Indiana. We all scattered to our vehicles and headed towards Greenwood to enjoy some City Barbeque. I got paired up with my step-grandfather (whom I refer to as Papaw) and we set off.

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