Kent State President Todd Diacon welcomed the campus community to the university's virtual observance activities for Martin Luther King Day.

This year's commemoration keynote address was delivered by CNN political analyst and former South Carolina state Rep. Bakari Sellers. The event was free and open to the public. 

President Diacon delivered the following remarks in introducing Sellers and in remembrance of Dr. King. 


Good afternoon:

There’s a phrase that I keep coming back to—a phrase that has popped into my head regularly—especially since January 6th. That phrase is “Think Globally and Act Locally.”

Actually, at the beginning of the pandemic this phrase also occurred to me as I drove around downtown Kent and worried about the physical health of our community and the financial health of local businesses.

Think Globally and Act Locally. What are we going to do to address the hatred that drove the recent attack on our democracy? How do we respond to the open, blatant racism expressed via signs, symbols, shouts and assaults on January 6th, 2021?

As a historian of Latin America and Brazil by training, I am well familiar with attempts to tear down democratic institutions in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world. But this scholarly training and knowledge made it no less terrifying to witness racism and hatred on parade in our nation’s capital—in part because this same historical training and scholarly knowledge tells me very strongly that the pernicious after-effects of mob violence, insurrection and failed coups have been long-lived and are still present in Latin American until today. And so, the bad news is that hatred, racism, fear-mongering and the abandonment of the truth and of facts are not going away anytime soon in the United States of America, as well.

So what do we do? How about we do this: we think globally and act locally. We think globally by studying and trying to understand national events and trends—doing so today by listening to our speaker, Bakari Sellers.

And we act locally by changing for the better our university and our community. This means participating in and implementing the work of the Anti-Racism Task Force at Kent State. We act locally by shopping locally, and we act locally by voting—and by voting not just in presidential elections but also in county and city-wide contests.

In December 1967, when announcing in Atlanta, Georgia the upcoming Poor Peoples March and Campaign, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asserted that “It is almost impossible to under-estimate the crisis we face in America. The stability of a civilization, the potential of free government, and honor of [women] and men are at stake.” He then noted in that same speech that “all of us can almost feel the presence of a kind of social insanity which could lead to national ruin.”

By acting locally, by creating the community we prefer to live in, right now and right here, we then can move toward a healing of the broader region, a healing of our nation, and the healing of our world.

Think Globally and Act Locally.

Thank you.

POSTED: Thursday, January 21, 2021 12:00 AM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 02:23 PM