Watch the video of the address by the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry.
Kenyon’s annual “Day of Dialogue” celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy featured as keynote speaker an advocate in issues of social justice, racial reconciliation, immigration and marriage equality. The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, the presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, delivered a energetic livestreamed address on Monday, Jan. 15, in Rosse Hall.
Curry was installed as the first African American head of the Episcopal Church in November 2015. As presiding bishop, Curry has led the church in its renewed commitment to work toward racial justice and reconciliation. Curry’s efforts to promote greater equality include his support of the church after its decision to recognize same-sex marriages, despite sanctions against the church from the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is part. “God didn’t make anybody to be a second-class citizen,” Curry said in a March 2016 interview with the New York Times.
In his address at Kenyon, Curry called upon his audience to consider one of Dr. King’s messages: “We shall either learn to live together as brothers and sisters, or we will perish together as fools. The choice is ours: chaos, or community.”
“We’re more than simply members of the human race,” Curry said. “We’re more than simply members, individual collections of self-interest, whose primary reason for existence is our survival and the survival of our tribe and the survival of our own kind, because the truth is, if that is the end game of all of humanity, for me and my tribe to survive, we will not.
“It’s like the TV show ‘Survivor,’” he continued. “The end game of survival is the destruction of the other. It doesn’t work.”
“I find Presiding Bishop Curry’s visit inspiring because he calls us to participate in building Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of the ‘beloved community’ with a message of great hope and optimism,” said Rev. Rachel Kessler ’04, chaplain and priest to Harcourt Parish Episcopal Church. “At the same time, he does not deny the very difficult work required for true racial reconciliation.” Kessler served on the event’s planning committee with Jonathan Blount, assistant director for upperclass residences; Kelly Bryan, assistant athletic director for student-athlete services and head women’s soccer coach; Chris Kennerly, associate dean of students and director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Ted Mason P’10, professor of English; Jacky Neri Arias ’13, assistant director of the ODEI; and Lorie Shults, administrative assistant for the ODEI.
In addition to Curry’s speech, the afternoon program featured a performance by the Chamber Singers, remarks by President Sean Decatur and a panel composed of Kessler, Professor of Religious Studies Ennis Edmonds, and Eric Sutton ’18, a sociology major and president of Black Student Union, who discussed religion’s role in social justice and racial reconciliation.
The Day of Dialogue program continues Tuesday, Jan. 16, with a viewing and discussion of the film “I Am Not Your Negro” at 7 p.m. in the Gund Gallery’s Community Foundation Theater. The documentary, based on work by James Baldwin, offers a radical examination of race in America, both past and present. Mason will lead a discussion of the film after the viewing.