Martin Luther King, Jr., the great civil rights leader from the United States, was in Ghana on March 6, 1957, to witness the extraordinary events that we have celebrated here all year. Exactly one month from that date he gave his famous sermon, Birth of a New Nation. Up until this year, I didn’t realize that the New Nation the speech was about was actually Ghana. In the speech he says:

“You can interpret Ghana any kind of way you want to, but Ghana tells me that the forces of the universe are on the side of justice. That night when I saw that old flag coming down and the new flag coming up, I saw something else. That wasn’t just an ephemeral, evanescent event appearing on the stage of history, but it was an event with eternal meaning, for it symbolizes something. That thing symbolized to me that an old order is passing away and a new order is coming into being. An old order of colonialism, of segregation, of discrimination is passing away now, and a new order of justice and freedom and goodwill is being born. That’s what it said: that somehow the forces of justice stand on the side of the universe, and that you can’t ultimately trample over God’s children and profit by it.”

And from a speech “Where do we go from here?” written ten years later:

“I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will still be rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. ... When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

by Suzanne Buchele, Acting Dean of Academic Affairs