The wise words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. resonated through more than just the amplifiers in the Casella Theater on Thursday.
After an enticing dual performance by the Castleton Jazz Ensemble and the University Chorale, President Dave Wolk excitedly took the stage in anticipation of what was to come. He gave forth his gratitude to an inexplicable gentleman who took the stage following Wolk’s departing.
The gentleman gave no preliminary introduction, perhaps because he was, for the moment, someone else entirely.
It was as if King himself had taken the stage that Thursday afternoon, personified by the resounding voice and personification of David Mills.
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation,” Mills began in the same robust tone that one might have heard standing before the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.
King’s masterful speech, projected through the body of Mills, echoed throughout Casella Theater with insurmountable conviction. All eyes were fixed upon the speaker.
It was clear that Mills held an intimate bond to the subject matter.
In the reception area following the speech Mills said, “that kind of melding of social and political conscience with an—I’ll say—spiritual conscience is paramount in my way of living this life. I think King blended those things pretty wonderfully in his life and work.”
David Mills is a self-titled “socio-political animal” with an impressive collection of achievements. He was awarded the Pan African Literary Forum Poetry Prize, his work has been featured in Rolling Stone and the Boston Globe among others and he is the author of a popular book of poetry titled “The Dream Detective.”
Along with imitations of King, Mills also reanimates the works of 20th century poet Langston Hughes.
Wolk also seemed to be greatly moved by Mills’ performance.
“David Mills effectively replicated not just the words, but the passion behind the speech,” Wolk commended.
Outside the theater, Wolk related the words of King to many of the accomplishments of Castleton University.
“It fits perfectly with what we’re trying to do at Castleton in terms of enhancing diversity, promoting social justice and welcoming all people here,” Wolk returned to his aforementioned thankfulness of the 35 flags hung in the foyer of the University. “I am very proud of that. We welcome everyone because the global family is the Castleton family,” Wolk said.
The Spring Convocation symbolized precisely what the Castleton community stands for, according to Wolk.
The beautifully delivered rendition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech reminded all of us “to open our doors and our hearts to everyone around the world.”