Ron Ponder Presents Address at Martin Luther King Jr. Day Awards Luncheon
January 19, 2009
Mount Union College students, faculty, staff and community members gathered in the Solarium of the Hoover-Price Campus Center to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and recognize those members of our campus and community who have worked to see his dream realized. Ron Ponder presented the address and is a radio personality at WHBC 1480 AM, owner of PonderSystems Media and Marketing and an independent television producer or programs for PBS affiliates, network affiliates, cable systems, corporate clients, television programs, commercials, documentaries, and the weekly program The ESPN2 Local Sports Break.
Ponder opened his speech questioning why we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Day. He offered possibilities for the celebration; “Is it because we get a day off, a chance for students to get extra credit, a time to reflect or a time to dream,” said Ponder. Fifteen years after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was observed. Ponder added that people opposing this day being celebrated gave reasons that disguised the real reason of racism.
“I view the civil rights struggle as a journey,” said Ponder.
He discussed significant events that have happened throughout his life that have shaped his views on civil rights. During his time at The University of Akron he went to see comedian Dick Gregory who was also Ponder’s hero. Gregory addressed the audience and thanked the white people for making the civil rights struggle a human rights struggle. This statement irritated Ponder at the time but he now sees that Dick Gregory was probably right in the fact that it is a human rights struggle.
Other events that have shaped Ponder’s journey include hearing a preacher talk on the radio about God then against colored people and on his family’s trip to Georgia having to be aware of what restaurants to stop at and what gas stations would let them use the bathroom.
Ponder included that all events that have happened in history were all part of God’s plan and this evolutionary journey. “The fact that the college has events for this day is evidence that the journey is moving along,” said Ponder.
He left the audience with a Ponderism: “Find the goodness in your own heart so that you can find the goodness in the hearts of others.”
Following Ponder’s speech, the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership and Diversity Awards were presented to those who exemplify the character and life of Dr. King. Bonnie Twaddle, Community Outreach Coordinator of The John T. Huston – Dr. John D. Brumbaugh Nature Center was presented with the community award. Dr. Michelle Collins-Sibley, professor of English was presented with the faculty award. Heather Stump, a junior early childhood education major received the student award for her work with the Midwest Campus Compact Citizen-Scholar Fellows Program, Project Inspire and encouraging cultural awareness and diversity on campus.