Inside USD

MLK’s Legacy Resonates Through Psychology Course

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crowd-watching2Collette Custin’s childhood was spent living on the south side of Chicago, which left her well-versed in the realities of racial prejudice, tense relations and conflict between majority and minority groups.

Now a double major in psychology and sociology, Custin ‘12 is taking Psychology 328 — a course that examines stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination — during this intersession.

“I’m really interested in social psychology and I came into this class wanting to learn more,” Custin said. “I wanted to be more well-rounded on the subject.”

As the nation prepares to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and reflect on his legacy, the course, taught by USD Psychology professor James Weyant, includes discussion of King’s powerful message of nonviolence.

“Dr. King is revolutionary,” Custin said. “I think of him as a representation of how we should think as Americans.”

Desire Beaumont ’10 has roots in Massachusetts and Rhode Island; she transferred to USD to complete a psychology degree and minor in English. While the Intersession class brings her a step closer to earning her degree, reflecting on King’s legacy and his actions, especially in words, provides plenty of inspiration.

“Dr. King stood up against all odds,” Beaumont said. “He continued to fight even after he had his life threatened and children and his wife, too. He never gave up. He stood for not only blacks, but for everyone to have equality.”

While most consider King’s “I Have a Dream” speech the signature of his legacy, Beaumont cites King’s “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” speech, given one night before the civil rights leader’s death in Memphis, as an even more resonant message of hope amid racial unrest.

“He knew he might not be around much longer, but in his speech he told them they were going to make it to the Promised Land. That speech is so powerful to me. I especially liked the religious aspects in his speech and how it inspired him. He knew it could make a change.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

Join Team USD, a group consisting of students, staff, faculty and administrators, who will participate in San Diego’s Martin Luther King Jr. Parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16 near Petco Park. (Photo from last year’s parade appears above.) Following the parade, members of the USD community will go to Linda Vista’s Bayside Community Center for a lunch program and to perform a service project at the center.

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