Terrence Roberts in Clarke Chapel.
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The Lycoming College community recognized Martin Luther King Day by participating in a number of activities throughout the week of Jan. 18.
The morning of Martin Luther King Day began with a community-wide peace walk through the city of Williamsport organized by the Beloved Community Council, composed of community members dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Williamsport area.
Jeff LeCrone, Lycoming’s director of spiritual life and member of the Beloved Community Council was among the many who participated in the walk. The walk ended at Penn College with a rally that included greetings from Lycoming College President Kent C. Trachte and Penn College Provost Paul L. Starkey. The rally saluted the walkers and those who agreed to volunteer with service projects organized by STEP Americorp for about 15 local agencies.
About 70 people participated in the walk and service projects.
Members of Lycoming’s Black Student Union staffed a table in Pennington Lounge throughout the day where students could serve by putting together toiletry kits, often with a note of encouragement. The kits were distributed by the American Rescue Workers to its homeless shelters in the area.
On Wednesday, Jan. 20, Terrence Roberts, Ph.D., shared his experiences with being among the first African-American students to enroll at schools for whites in the south during the 1950s. Speaking in Clarke Chapel, Roberts provided a poignant account of the challenges he and the other eight students faced in and out of school during that time.
“Roberts’ presentation was phenomenal and we received a lot of grateful feedback from students, faculty and community members,” said Leah Paulson, program coordinator for Student Programs at Lycoming College who helped make the arrangements for the speaker. “He was obviously at peace, even when speaking about the harsh treatment he and others received at school.
“He put a huge emphasis on education, both formal and informal, by telling students that no matter how hard things got, he educated himself so he could become an agent of change. He encouraged Lycoming’s students to do the same,” she said. She appreciated the time Roberts spent after the presentation answering difficult personal and philosophical questions posed by audience members.
Before the presentation, a number of students, alumni, community members and faculty enjoyed conversing with Roberts during dinner.
Thursday concluded the week’s activities with a community round table discussion on the issue of trust organized by the Beloved Community Council.
“We know that racial tensions often arise out of a lack of trust among people in our communities, nation and our world,” said LeCrone. “The roundtable provided a forum for meaningful discussion about how trust is defined and what could be done in the community to improve it.”
Additional activities are planned for Lycoming students for February as part of Black History Month.