Herman Hemingway, fraternity brother of Martin Luther King, Jr., brings his message to Dana Hall

Mr. Herman W. Hemingway, grandfather of Amaechinna Iwuh ’19, spoke about his experiences as a civil rights activist and as a fraternity brother of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during Monday’s X-Block, on January 11, 2016. Mr. Hemingway believes strongly that he was put on this earth to tell Dr. King’s story.

SHADES, Dana Hall’s multicultural club, introduced him with a brief overview of his life, and two members, Ogugua Uchendu ’16 and Ellease Creer ’17, sang “We Shall Overcome,” an emblem of the civil rights movement.

Mr. Hemingway and Dr. King met in an all-black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, a group that was not exclusive to just one college, but was for colleges in and around Boston because of the few number of black college students at the time. Mr. Hemingway was an undergraduate student at Brandeis University, where he would become the first black student to graduate, and Dr. King was a graduate student at Boston University.

MLK memorialMr. Hemingway emphasized that Dr. King was a short man, shorter  than many of the other pledges, in order to highlight that Dr. King was a large presence, symbolized by his larger-than-life statue in Washington, DC. Even as a new pledge, Dr. King told the group that he was a minister and that there would be “no profanity” around him. This short minister from Atlanta would “fight for the justice of others” and expose the “failure of the U.S.” to assign African Americans the rights that should have been theirs by American citizenship.  Today, Hemingway encourages young people to to continue the work of Dr. King and to “support the poor, the weak, the unheard, and to listen to them.”

There is much work to be done, though, and Mr. Hemingway mentioned the ongoing “discrimination in jobs, unequal education, and police violence.” Mr. Hemingway also says the Black Lives Matter protests are  “fantastically amazing” and urges the Dana Hall community to aggressively assert our right to protest, because if  “we don’t claim it, the courts will take it away.”

In a recent article from his alma mater, Brandeis University, Mr. Hemingway says that “All sorts of wonderful, incredible, strange things have happened, [and] I cannot get over how good God has been to me, how much gratitude I feel for the opportunity to be here at this time.”

Mr. Hemingway closed his speech by remarking that the youth will inherit the world and will thus “be architects of a society free of racism, bigotry, and poverty. Go forth, you architects, and build wisely.”

Photo, top: Mr. Herman Hemingway at his home in Chestnut Hill. Photo credit: Charles A. Radin of Brandeis NowPhoto, left: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC. Image source: USA Guided Tours.

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