Huggins reminds that movements are nothing new in the U.S., dating back to the slaves, and settlers rising up to rid the land of British rule. There were women and immigrants speaking up to be treated as human beings.
“There have always been movements for what is right and what isn’t,” she said. “Everybody deserves a quality of life, every human being.”
Huggins was as unsettled at the unrest at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as most people were, the loss of life especially.
“It’s sad there was a woman killed at the Capitol. I didn’t even know her name,” she said.
Huggins’ compares the understanding of the Constitution to an eroding hill from a torrential rain storm. Yet the hopeful message is to do something with two main things: love and action.
“We need to be honest and compassionate when we talk, both sides,” she said. “That talking has to come with action. I think of what action would I need to take having done that throughout my life.
“These divisions didn’t begin in 2016. History is not static. There have been unheeded warnings about history but how are we with one another.”
Huggins sees narrowing the divide as a key, but doing it differently.
“Maybe we can. There is always hope for that, a hope my kids and grandkids will be able to figure it out before I close my eyes,” she said.
The presentation will include music from the Imani Gospel Choir, followed by Huggins’ introduction by Concerned Black Students president Jhiara Henderson.
The MLK convocation is normally presented as part of the Wittenberg Series of lectures and events, which was canceled for 2020-21 year due to pandemic restrictions. The convocation is traditionally held in Weaver Chapel on the campus and includes faculty and student speakers and musical performances on Martin Luther King Day.
Dr. Nancy McHugh of Wittenberg’s Department of Philosophy, said the faculty and students recognized how important the convocation was. She and the student advisory committee worked with Wittenberg’s Concerned Black Students group to see how they could present things differently and chose the virtual approach.
The students submitted a list of names they’d like as speakers with Huggins at the top, and were thrilled when she was available.
“The students had a strong voice in this. Ms. Huggins is a really important person to speak for the times we are in right now and with her commitment to restorative justice,” McHugh said.
This is the first time the convocation is being done on a Tuesday, which is the students’ first day back following the winter break and it allows for a week of activities relating to MLK. These will range from historical to contemporary issues. Activities, some of which are open to the public, are listed on Wittenberg’s Around the Hollow page on its website.