vMLK and White Rock present at NCSU’s Black Research Symposium

Doris Wesley
Event: March 24, 2023

It was a fantastic experience moderating a panel session with our ongoing community partners from the White Rock Baptist Church at the first Black Research Symposium (BRS) hosted by NC State’s African American Cultural Center. Members of the White Rock Baptist Church shared their experiences of collaborating with NC State’s vMLK project and provided insights and advice on partnerships between the university and community partners. It was an honor to host Rev. Dr. Reginald Van Stephens, Deaconess, Joyce Blackwell, Ph. D., Dr. Linda Hubbard Curtis, and Mr. Raymond Johnston. Present at the panel session were doctoral students, external supporters of the White Rock Baptist Church, NC State community members, students, and conference attendees. 

The panel discussed the relationship between the church and the vMLK Project team over the years, some opportunities and challenges that have emerged throughout the partnership, shared hopes for the relationship with the vMLK Project over the next few years, and advice for developing a quality ongoing partnership between university and community folks.

Attendees got an in-depth understanding of the 1960 Martin Luther King, Jr. speech, “A Creative Protest (Fill Up the Jails) and the larger historical context that of the speech. The panellists offered an understanding of how history and the civil rights movement played a role in shaping the narrative as well as how the church became involved in the project with its lead investigator, Dr. Gallagher. Other notable topics from the panel include:

  • The importance of maintaining the integrity of a project: avoid changing the narrative and romanticizing the event.
  • Staying mindful and conscious of the facts and always start from a position of authenticity.
  • Essential tips for community building: get to know the potential partner in detail; maintain a respectful attitude in your engagements; communicate the shared mutual benefits; develop a shared vision, goals, and policies; think futuristicly; and keep the longevity and ongoing assessment of the project at heart.
  • Build a sustainable relationship with community members. Let the friendship be trusting, open-minded, committed, and respectful.
  • When engaging in a similar kind of non-violent work, either locally or internationally, strive toward engaging in grassroots and peace activism and not passivism. Ensure that projects have some level of global components to have a larger meaning and impact.

Cite this page as: Wesley, Doris. Virtual Martin Luther King, Jr. Project. 2023. Retrieved from https://vmlk.chass.ncsu.edu/