LEWISTON — Delivering Sunday's homily during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Worship Service at Bates College, Julian Agyeman called on the crowd to sustain human power and potential just as much as he encouraged them to protect environmental resources.
And according to the pioneering environmental justice and sustainability advocate from Tufts University, the two truly are inseparable.
Agyeman, the keynote speaker for this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day events at Bates College, was born in England in 1958 to a biracial couple.
Agyeman said black or biracial role models were nearly nonexistent in England for youngsters like him during the 1960s. Agyeman said he and other English black and biracial youth looked to the United States to find role models in everything from politics to athletics or even music.
One role model in particular — Martin Luther King Jr. — struck a chord with the young boy who grew up to be a professor and chair of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University.
"I watched the Civil Rights movement on television," Agyeman said. "It opened up a whole new world to me."
Agyeman is co-founder and co-editor of the International Journal of Justice and Sustainability and has written more than 150 publications. His message of ensuring a better quality of life for all people while protecting and supporting all ecosystems falls directly in line with this year's theme of "Environmental Justice: Martin Luther King's Unfinished Agenda."
Agyeman will also speak at 9:30 a.m. Monday in the college chapel. His speech is titled, “The Dream Lives on: Towards a Just Sustainability."
Bates College was founded by abolitionists before the Civil War and has long had a commitment to equality and social justice. Monday events include a student debate and workshops that explore the environmental theme during the day, and an evening performance by the student ensemble Sankofa.
All MLK Day events at Bates are open to the public at no cost. For more information, call 786-6400.