By Abigail Quint ’15, Copy Editor
The College community celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. last week with a series of events.
F&M hosted the 26th Annual Crispus Attucks Community Center Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Breakfast. According to its webpage, the “Crispus Attucks Community Center strives to improve the quality of life for youth and families in Lancaster by providing services that promote community prosperity, physical and mental health, and by offering programs and cultural events which preserve the African American heritage.”
The breakfast served as a fundraiser to assist in the operations of the center. Speakers at the event included Dan Porterfield, president of the College, Ron Martin, a local news anchor, Darrell “Coach D” Andrews, and Markera Jones ’15.
“This deepening of the F&M student body has attracted national attention from the media and the federal government,” Porterfield said. “Some hear this news from F&M with shock, as if our early success in finding talented students from the full economic and ethnic mosaic deserves a patent. No. There’s nothing miraculous happening here. This is the race-neutral society Dr. King envisioned where women and men are judged by the content of our character.
This is what it looks like at F&M, and is not beyond the reach of America’s top institutions, even though, sadly, just six percent of students from lower income communities are presently on the campuses of the top 200 colleges and universities in America,” he continued. “What we are doing here, together as a community, benefits every student and the country — we must insist on that as we engage others and share experiences about how education can create a better and more just world.”
Porterfield introduced Jones and spoke of a recent incident at Coatesville High School that highlighted the extent that inequality and bigoted behavior affects students. Administrators sent text messages with racial slurs used to describe some of their students.
Jones, a former student of Coatesville High School, recalled her senior guidance session focusing on college applications during her speech.
“And so I sat there, impatiently and confused, as my guidance counselor, who I thought knew my character, my work ethic, my academic history, and my 3.85 GPA, expressed that a school with a low graduation rate and below-average admission standards was his top-choice school for me,” she said. “I was even more uncomfortable when I learned that several other high-performing friends of mine experienced the same situation during their appointments.”
Jones spoke to the continued issue of racism in the educational system.
“This is not to bash other colleges or universities, but it made me wonder why the color of my skin spoke more volumes than my personality, my potential, my vision,” Jones said. “I share this with you not to dirty Coatesville High School’s reputation more than it already has been, but to demonstrate just one example of the institutional prejudice that continues to exist in schools all over the country.”
Jones, who will study abroad this semester in France, has found her experience at F&M to be formative and enlightening.
“Choosing Franklin & Marshall College — despite what was expected of me — was perhaps the best decision of my life,” she said. “My experience here, with Dr. Porterfield as our president, has not only allowed me to blossom as a person, but it has also taught me the true meaning of education.”
After the speech, Jones interacted with attendees of the breakfast, who congratulated her on her achievements.
In a separate interview, Jones shared her intense appreciation for her time at F&M thus far.
“My F&M experience changed me for the better by exposing me to a world outside of what I was accustomed to,” Jones said. “I came here and experienced double culture shock — race and class. The liberal arts experience here has really broadened my perspective on countless aspects of my life. It allows me to see my life and my background from others’ points of view, which is at times difficult but always rewarding. Being here has therefore motivated me to work harder and dream bigger, and for that I am beyond grateful to call F&M my alma mater.”
Junior Abigail Quint is the Copy Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.