CSW Hosts MLK Assembly Featuring Dr. Nyle Fort
CSW was pleased to welcome minister, activist, and scholar Dr. Nyle Fort as our guest speaker at this year's MLK Day assembly. Dr. Fort earned his PhD in Religion and Interdisciplinary Humanities, with a concentration in African American Studies, from Princeton University in 2021. His research addresses issues of race, religion, politics, and activism. Watch the recording of the assembly here
In his address to the community. Dr. Fort spoke about the importance of storytelling, focusing on the way Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s story has been shared in the United States across the ages. "The popular story of King is a lullaby," he said, created with the intention of keeping the American people asleep. He challenged students to confront the mythical version of King's story, versus the historical version, and encouraged community members to "break free" from the same old story we have been telling ourselves, and allow ourselves to face the difficult facts.
"What will people say about us when it's all said and done?" he asked. That we drove nice cars and went to nice schools? That we were eloquent and silent? Or that we struggled to make the world a little bit better than the way we found it?
After his remarks, Dr. Nyle opened up the floor to questions and answered some of the following queries from students:
- In a smaller school, what work can we do to start pushing toward the impossible?
- Who are some of the thinkers and writers whose words inspire you?
- In a world filled with so much hate, how do we bridge barriers and come together?
- How can someone who's been oppressed continue to oppress another group so strongly. What can we do to combat this?
- How do you stay rooted when you are met with loud opposition, criticism, doubt?
- How has your education influenced your activism?
In his answers to such questions, Dr. Fort spoke about the importance of street activism AND intellectual work in affecting real change. He also spoke in depth about identity politics, and how he believes people misconstrue the concept of identity as telling us what we value
, instead of what we have gone through
. He reflected, as well, on the double edge sword of representation. "We need representation," he said, "but we also need people across racial bounds fighting the systems that made representation necessary in the first place."
He ended the discussion with an important message for the CSW community: "Love, more than anything will save us." Love, he said, is what keeps him going, and is the only thing that can sustain and transform.