With her hands out facing upward as if she was in church, Judith Caruthers, along with the rest of the audience, joined the chorale in singing “We Shall Overcome” during the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.For the third year, spring convocation on Jan. 18 was dedicated to King and, new this year, Mahatma Gandhi instead of school matters.
Esau Pritchett returned to Castleton State College as King to reenact three of King’s famous speeches including one praising Gandhi for his peaceful nature amidst violence.
“The world doesn’t like people like Mahatma Gandhi,” Pritchett said portraying King.
Pritchett stood tall in front of the lectern punctuating the speeches with simple but effective hand gestures. His voice fell into the silent audience strong and determined as if he were summoning them to join him in the peaceful war in the motivational speeches “I Have a Dream” and “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”
“He predicted his own demise. He knew it was coming,” Prichett said of “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” “It was the most courageous speech, that’s why it’s my favorite.”
King’s chosen speeches shadowed ongoing events by pointing out the men who have dealt peacefully in the face of brutality.
“The tension between violence and non-violence is incredibly important right now,” said Michael Kiernan, a Middleburry physician who organized the speeches, in his opening speech.
Kiernan also pointed out that these ideas were taught to the very motivated King in the classroom.
“They [convocations] bring us energy to start a new semester,” said Carolina Gonzalo, a Spanish teaching assistant from Argentina. “I was impressed because of the message [this one sent].”
Kiernan then performed one of Gandhi’s speeches about toleration and respecting others. In the speech, Gandhi admitted that waiting for freedom would be better than spilling blood to gain freedom.
“In this day and time, it seems so amazing [these speeches] are very relevant,” Pritchett said. “It seems an x amount of years later the world would be a different place, but it’s not.”
Punctuating the speeches, the Castleton Colligate Chorale sang in between each oration.
“The amazing words and music worked perfectly together,” said Ron Sherwin, who synched up the music and speeches.
Before the celebration began, President Dave Wolk announced:
o the new employees
o Employees who have new titles
o Jane Foley as the employee of the semester
o Stephanie Johnson as the commuter student of the semester