Continuing the year-long celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Multicultural Center, Julianne Bond, chair of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), will be speaking at Williams College on January 15th. In addition to the series of events which will be held in January and April commemorating the formation of the Multicultural Center, Monday, January 18th, will be dedicated to the preservation of the memory of Martin Luther King Jr.
The Multicultural Center was officially opened in the fall of 1989 after a series of student protests in the spring of 1988. Nura Dualeh ’85 served as the first director of the MCC until 1993. Under her direction, MINCO (Minority Coalition) was founded in 1991. After Dualeh, three other individuals served as director of the MCC until this fall when Alex Willingham, professor of political science, was named Director of the MCC.
As the first faculty member to act as Director of the MCC, Willingham created the position of Assistant Director of the MCC, currently held by Anita Doddi ’98, in order to assist him with the workload.
The 10th anniversary festivities began on Homecoming Weekend when the MCC unveiled their new logo, designed by Rachel Watts ’97 and held a reception for Williams alumni and students. The second section of the celebration will continue on this Friday when Bond will deliver a speech in Thompson Chapel at 8:15pm. Bond is known for his work as a civil rights activist and his relationship with Martin Luther King Jr. A professor of history at the University of Virginia, Bond is currently the chair of the NAACP.
Originally intended for the celebration of the MCC, Bond’s visit to Williams coincides with Williamstown’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On the morning of January 18th, Williams students will be visiting Williamstown elementary school and Mt. Greylock High School to take part in their assemblies about Martin Luther King Jr. The assemblies will include student dance and song performances and speeches delivered by both Williams and Williamstown students.
On Williams campus, there will be an interfaith service at Thompson Chapel at 2 p.m. in which Robert Johnson-Smith, a minister at Jekintown Baptist Church and grandfather of Royce Smith ’01, will be speaking
According to Royce Smith, his grandfather has served there for 40 years, so his ministry extended throughout the civil rights era. Johnson-Smith and King were contemporaries and knew each other well. After King’s assassination, each weekend that the nation celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, he delivered his sermon on letters that he had written to King describing the current race relations in the country. According to Smith, “I’m pretty sure he wrote a different on each year, some of which have been published, and I think one of them is in the congressional record.”
Johnson-Smith’s address is titled “Letters to Martin Luther King Jr” and, according to Smith, he is going to read his first letter and a new one.
At 4 p.m., there will be a talk and reception at the Williams College Museum about the Romare Bearden exhibit which features his photomontages from the civil rights movement. Later that evening at 8 p.m., there will be a student celebration organized by the Black Student Union and a candlelight vigil from Chapin Hall to Rice House where there will be a reception later that evening.
The 10th anniversary festivities will continue in April. On April 9th, Medha Kirtane ’00 and Ammu Kirtane ’95 will be performing a traditional south Indian classical dance. In the morning of April 10th, there will be a series a panels and lectures discussing the history of the MCC, its mission, and its success at fulfilling those goals. That evening there will be a variety of performances from student groups and alumni.
“I am most excited about the 10th anniversary because students are only here for four years and I think that there isn’t a good sense of history here,” said Anita Doddi, Assistant Director of the Multicultural Center. “By bringing back alumni and talk about the history, we will have a better sense of the purpose and mission of the MCC.”