VALPARAISO | Standing up for the ideals espoused by Martin Luther King Jr. will continue to require sacrifice and suffering, a Valparaiso University professor said Monday.
“If you stand up for something, know you will suffer. Only through sacrifice will justice be achieved,” said the Rev. John Nunes, who holds the Jochum Chair at VU.
A former president and CEO of Lutheran World Relief, Nunes was keynote speaker at the university's 25th annual celebration of the life of the civil rights leader, which drew hundreds to the Chapel of the Resurrection.
The event also featured the reading of King's “I Have a Dream” speech and the presentation of the Martin Luther King Jr. award to Stacy Hoult-Saros, associate professor of foreign languages and literature at VU, for her work furthering King's vision of multiculturalism.
This year's theme, “The Beloved Community,” refers to King's idea of a place where peace, reconciliation and redemption prevail. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of a beloved community, King believed.
Nunes said while much progress has been made in the way of civil rights, the country still struggles with issues of diversity, and “life in America in the 21st century is quite a mixed bag.”
Many Americans have an abundance of material possessions, but they suffer from a deep spiritual poverty. They are “rich in things, but poor in soul,” Nunes said.
On the VU campus, there have been incidents of ethnic and racial bullying, both overt and subtle, he said. The university's leadership has zero tolerance for this "lingering home-grown terrorism called racism,” Nunes said.
Nunes himself was the victim of racism when he moved from Baltimore to Valparaiso.
He said he received a letter from a credit card company that was addressed with a racial epithet. He thanked the VU police department and community for supporting him through the incident.
“We are not a perfect community, but we are a community committed to becoming a beloved community,” he said.
Nunes urged people to speak up if they see an injustice, and to believe in their capacity to bring about change.
“The surest cure for dissatisfaction with injustice is peaceful, prophetic and patriotic action,” he said.