The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 1, 2013

Spear: Pathfinders carry King's message in diverse ways

A gray-haired white col­lege professor from Kansas spoke about a civil rights protest march down Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

A young professional in construc­tion manage­ment
spoke of the emo­tional visit to a balcony in Memphis, the site of an assassina­tion.

Catholic high school stu­dents and their teachers spoke of social and econom­ic justice.

And a grocery store man­ager of an Iowa-based com­pany recited passages of inspiring civil rights speech­es from five decades ago.

All offered a story at the Martin Luther King Jr. event last week in Mankato. It’s one of the longest-run­ning events of its kind in the state, having been estab­lished the year before King’s birthday became a federal holiday.

It’s an event I’ve come to attend over the years as a member of the organizing committee, but also one where I’ve found you can see very different people coming together to talk about an under-appreciated idea for change in the American system: justice through nonviolence.

We’ve got plenty of jus­tice through violence. We can kill people we don’t like at will and with ease. But it’s tough to change things with the strength of nonvio­lence.

It’s a concept we don’t tend to think about more than once a year, on King’s birthday. But it’s one we should probably consider frequently.

Minnesota State University associate profes­sor Scott Fee was recog­nized as the Pathfinder win­ner this year, earning the honor for his years of work introducing MSU students to South Africa and setting up academic partnerships at
the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

He learned of his award from good friend Mohamed Alsadig, who was with him and friends when they visited Memphis, the Civil Rights Museum and the hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. He described it as an emotional experience and one he will not soon forget.

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