On Thursday, January 9th, Bellevue College’s Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Keynote was held from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m in the Carlson Theater. The event was organized by the Office of Equity and Pluralism, the Office of Instruction, and the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. The event was free for everyone to go to, and a speaker was chosen to talk from 11:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m., with a reception from 12:30-1:30 pm to converse and eat food.
Rosa Clemente was chosen as they Keynote speaker for this year, an activist in many political struggles such as the struggle between Black and Latin people in the 21st century. As an Afro-Latina, she understands the circumstances of being a minority and being an organizer and activist for her cause. Clemente is also the founder and president of Know Thy Self Productions, that produced many community activism tours.
“We want students to be able to make connections between current issues that we face as a community and how they are connected to Dr. King’s Legacy,” explained Aaron Reader, Director of Multicultural Services. “In addition, social justice isn’t just about learning or becoming aware, but it’s about ‘doing’. So, students will hopefully leave wanting to take action towards making positive changes for themselves, our campus and community.”
The theme for this year’s Keynote was “Where do we go from here, Chaos or Community.” Chaos or Community is the conflict between either building community or building chaos as a result from marginalized groups being impacted by hate. The theme is taken from Dr. Martin Luther King’s book, “Where do we go from here, Chaos or Community?” In the book, Dr. King wrote about the importance of uniting as a community to peacefully fight social injustice rather than resorting to violence. Clemente discussed how people need to organize movements in order to get rid of racism and oppression.
Clemente discussed current issues people face as a community and why people need to take action. “We’re in such a dire situation, that us organizers and activists if we don’t speak out we’re on the wrong side of humanity, history and justice,” stated Clemente. “Unless you want to be one of the people where your choices are made for you.”
She explained how it was important to be an organizer in society, by organizing movements to solve social justice issues, just as Dr. Martin Luther King did. “I’m an organizer at heart, and Dr. King at heart was an organizer,” said Clemente. She stressed the importance for people to stand up for the oppressed.
Clemente said that she saw people, “standing up for racial justice and seeing white young people being on the ground and follow black and brown leadership, seeing this new generation of white organizers, seeing an organization go from five chapters to 175 makes it very clear that we’re going towards a multi-racial people’s movement. Which is what we need, but as we go towards that movement we can never not center racial justice. Because when black and brown people are free we are all free.”
With the election of Donald Trump, Clemente says about organizers, “We have to be 100 percent unapologetic and completely committed at this point to resisting in a way that we never thought we could.”