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Godwin: King was a visionary
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
It’s important to put Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in context, said Patrick Henry Community College President Angeline Godwin.
When she taught this as a classroom professor, she pointed out that King “was able, in a troublesome time, to really be a visionary. ... He was able to see beyond the horizon ...,” she said.
Godwin, who has lived in this community for a little more than a year, said her view is that many racial obstacles that have been eliminated resulted from generations of people after King, including many in this community, who were visionaries. Those people wanted their communities and relations among people to move forward and they “didn’t get bogged down in the complexities of human interactions and social justice,” she said.
She said she believes removal of or great reduction in obstacles has enabled minorities to move and interact freely in society and be part of the social fabric of a community, and has produced opportunities in such things as employment and health care.
The reasons for obstacles that remain probably lie “deep within imperfections of the human heart,” Godwin said. Whether people are divided by race, ethnicity, religious persuasion or socioeconomically, “we always have to constantly work to overcome and to better connect with each other,” understanding and appreciating each other’s cultures, valuing differences and focusing on camaraderie among people, she said.
She said the “I Have A Dream” speech “absolutely” is relevant today. “We still need to work toward having vision; looking beyond chaos, confusion, differences of opinion; and looking to what the ultimate good could be.”
PHCC is more diverse than its service area, Godwin said, adding that she sees that as a strength.
When asked to assess the racial situation locally, she said the interactions she has had professionally and personally have been “very positive.” She sees the community having a dialogue about racial relations as positive — as long as the goal is to create a better community. If that is not the goal, “we need to rethink about how we talk about difficult” community issues, she said.
Godwin said she always tried to teach her students to work toward the dream of making the world a better place by each one doing his or her part. “I try to live by that,” she added.