On Monday, February 26, 2018, Andrews University hosted “Changing the World: The Next Step” in honor and celebration of Black History Month. The program was at 6:00 p.m. in Garber Auditorium in Chan Shun hall. The event was free with refreshments available following the program. The program consisted of members of the community as well as Andrews’s faculty, staff and students.
The first part of the event was a viewing of the Tom Weidlinger documentary “The Long Walk to Freedom,” a 30-minute film about 12 individuals who grew up to have very integral parts in the civil rights movement. Following the documentary was a panel to discuss whether the goals for a just, free, compassionate society have been reached, and what further steps should be taken.
The panel consisted of 10 individuals: Andrea Luxton, President of Andrews University; Mike Ryan, District Director for US Congressman Fred Upton; Mike Hildebrand, Supervisor for the Oronoko Charter Township; Gwendolyn Moffitt, community engagement liaison, Michigan Department of Civil Rights; Carmelo Mercado, General Vice President/Multicultural Ministries coordinator, Lake Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; Michael Nixon, Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion, Andrews University; Carole Woolford-Hunt, chair, Department of Graduate Psychology & Counseling/Counseling Psychology program coordinator, Andrews University; Jeff Boyd, executive director, Adventist Peace Fellowship; Emanuel Brown, co-director/founder, African American History and Literature Gallery; and moderator Mark Reid, President, Andrews University Graduate Student Association.
The panel provided a variety of perspectives and opinions; most in attendance took something away from the panel. “I loved the (documentary) that they played. I would have preferred a smaller panel, but all of the answers were very insightful,” said Owen Jackson (junior, accounting).
The answers to the question of whether or not change was reached varied greatly, with some focused on the importance of quantifying change, like Michael Nixon, who stated, “progress on screen differs from progress in real life. We cannot believe progress is there before it is actually there.”
There were also panelists who believed that a lot of progress has been made.
Mike Ryan stated “We have come a long way since the 60s,” giving an anecdotal story about race relations in his youth, “but we still have a long way to go.”
The size of the panel proved to be a challenge when wanting to hear everyone, but a lot was taken away by many students who felt glad they had attended.
Senior business and pre-med major Noreena Ogidan said, “I found the program to be very enlightening and insightful. I appreciated seeing different persons from the community and hearing their perspective on how to foster a more equal and just society.”