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Reflection, Inquiry, Dialogue, Action

By Ione Damasco

"Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction. The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals."

— From “The Purpose of Education,” Martin Luther King Jr.

A Time of Challenge

As the University of Dayton community comes together to celebrate the life and legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., we do so at a time marked by seemingly overwhelming challenges. We have started this new year during an unprecedented phase of the pandemic, with some of the highest case counts this country has seen since March 2020. Public discourse around critical questions for our society has become increasingly polarized and politicized, further dividing us into a nation of “us vs. them.”

These critical questions include:

  • What should be taught in classrooms around history and racism?
  • What are the most effective ways to combat the coronavirus?
  • How should we deal with disparities in income, wealth, education and access to health care? 
  • How can we safeguard democracy through voter rights?
  • How do we address climate change?

Resources for Inquiry

As members of a campus community, our access to a high-quality educational environment grounded in Marianist values and Catholic social teaching is both a privilege and a responsibility. We have resources such as the Dialogue Zone to help us build our skills around dialogue in order to have meaningful conversations with others who may think differently from ourselves. We are called to think critically, to discern the signs of the times and act in ways that ensure the common good.

When we feel hopeless or powerless, we can turn to the words of King and the many people who have chosen the difficult path of continuing his legacy of civil rights work to find inspiration and suggestions for action. The University Libraries provide access to many resources, both in print and online, to learn more about King’s work. With a variety of new resources, you can also learn about the struggle for equity that is happening right now.

Questions for Reflection

  • What does civil rights work look like in 2022, and how is it similar to and/or different from the work done 40 years ago?
  • What lessons have we learned from King, and what new insights have current social justice leaders brought to the struggle?

We hope the resources listed here create deeper understanding of some of the issues King addressed and inspire you to find ways to contribute to greater equity and social justice in your own life.

AVIATE Program Opportunity for Students

  • Film screening and dialogue: At the River I Stand (6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20; RSVP required; see 1850 for details) — Shannen Dee Williams, associate professor of history, will moderate a dialogue following the film, which chronicles the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike of 1968 and the April 4 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in that city. Event sponsored by the universitywide Martin Luther King Jr. program planning committee.

Library Topic Guides

Works by Martin Luther King Jr.

Works by Other Authors

— Ione Damasco is the associate dean for inclusive excellence, engagement and operations in the University Libraries.

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