Bridgewater Commemorates Martin Luther King Jr. Day with March

Students, Faculty, and Community Members Participate

Alexander Naupari, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va – On Monday, Jan. 20, Bridgewater College celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a march that started after some speeches were given by members of the community at Oakdale Park. According to Student Life, nearly 500 people participated in the march, while temperatures were around 20 degrees. 

When asked why she came to support the event in person despite the harsh conditions, Bridgewater College student Lindsay Olzawski said “I consider standing up for civil rights as one of the most important things to me and Martin Luther as someone who showed his dedication to that cause is really important for even as us students to remember and try to do the same.” 

Jamie Frueh, the director of the Center for Engaged Learning, who was there to march, commented about the things that made him most respect King which included “his ability to persuade those who did not necessarily respect him in a respectful manner.” Frueh went on to say that even though it was a personal issue for King, he never reduced his rebuttals to personal insults which is something that Frueh wishes would be emulated more in contemporary dialogue. 

The event officially started off when the master of ceremonies DeAndre Powell introduced the first speaker, Bridgewater Town Manager Jay Liton. Liton covered for the Mayor Ted Flory who was unable to attend. Liton mentioned the Town of Bridgewater’s slogan, “inter se succurrimus” which translated from Latin means “enriching each other,” which, he said, is something town officials try to embody every day. 

Liton said this is due to their belief that in order to empower a community, the individuals within it need to be empowered regardless of race, sexual orientation, or some other immutable condition. After Liton’s comments, Powell introduced Bridgewater College Chaplain Robbie Miller. Miller’s speech revolved around King’s quote “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” It was this quote to which Miller said Bridgewater’s culture actively promotes “moving forward” on fighting for racial equality and inclusiveness. 

After the Chaplain’s remarks, Powell introduced Bridgewater’s Black Student Association President, Adriana Hayes. Hayes said she encouraged different races to embrace each other as equals. Hayes warned about complacency in trying to achieve equality by quoting King: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” 

Hayes said that even though it may sometimes be difficult to fight for justice “we must be willing to march on forward.” 

Finally, Powell introduced Bridgewater College President David Bushman. During his address, Bushman mainly spoke of the ideals that Bridgewater College officially embraces in its “Statement of Institutional Values” which are “goodness,” “truth,” “beauty” and “harmony.” Bushman said the implementation of these values included embracing new ideas, educating the whole person intellectually, creatively, and spiritually and preparing students to be participants in a global society that respects the dignity of every person. 

After the speeches concluded, Powell directed Bridgewater’s cheerleading team to carry a Bridgewater College banner and lead the event participants back to campus with him. 

Local authority provided police vehicles and personnel to clear the roads for the march attendees to safely walk. The march itself was approximately a mile long and lasted for 20 minutes, ending at the Kline Campus Center.