Babson – A Legacy of 'Family'
According to Author John Edgar Wideman
Last week Babson celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. at its 5th annual Legacy Day event. Past featured guests have included Dr. Julianne Malveaux, commentator and current president of Bennett College in North Carolina; micro-lending pioneer and 2006 Nobel Peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus; award-winning NPR commentator Juan Williams; and Naomi Tutu, economist, author/activist and daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This year we were privileged to have award-winning author John Edgar Wideman.
And Wideman didn't let us down!
Wideman's keynote began only after powerful original readings by student contest winners, Sarah English and Obenewaa Boakye. He praised them and their work and said he felt as though he'd been welcomed into a family. He spoke from the heart about being impressed by what he'd encountered on our campus, by the Posses – their energy and enthusiasm; – by his conversations with the BSU (Black Student Union) members, and by this program honoring Dr. King.
Wideman used no notes that I could see and his talking points seemed to develop from not just his life experience – but from how his experience is influenced by what is happening now. In fact, he seemed to be reacting and responding to the day's activities at Babson. It felt very personal.
He talked about Dr. King and about teaching young people today, and then he read from his newest book “Fanon.” He also read excerpts from an upcoming book of 'very short' stories, and answered questions from the audience.
It was exhilarating to see the Babson Community pack the Sorenson Theater; to sing the Black National Anthem; to celebrate the Posse program and honor President Barefoot, Professor Bliss, and members of Posse 1; to hear the passionate voices of talented students reading their own creative work, and to hear a great writer whose life has been moved by life's highs and lows.
Following that was a reception in the lobby provided by Sodexho Campus Services where Wideman signed copies of his books.
It was a great day at Babson!