Manchester Magazine Fall 2017 - Page 16

MU | F e a t u r e s King was “eloquent and inspiring” when he spoke that day, adds Switzer. “You could hear a pin drop.” Switzer, who served as Manchester’s president from 2004 to 2014, says she was aware that some people on campus and many in the community were not pleased Beverly Sayers ’69 Eikenberry was there, too. She remembers less about the day than the influence King had on her life. She studied the nonviolent teachings of King and Gandhi, served in the Peace Corps and, for more than 20 years, has served as a mediator for Education for Conflict Resolution (ECR) in North Manchester. “He was a people’s person and it showed. He was a good person and that showed.” – Sue Wells ’70 Livers about King’s visit to Manchester. “In 1968, some people in small towns in northern Indiana did not know African-American people as well as we do now,” adds Switzer. “Students at Manchester have never been of one mind, so while there were many very positive about his work, others were skeptical. Some were skeptical about his visit, but it was not a large number.” Retired as ECR’s director, Eikenberry for years helped create peace education programming for fourth- and fifth-graders that included King as a role model. Joel Eikenberry ’68, a senior that year, was not skeptical. Eikenberry was a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam and King had started speaking out against the war. By the late ’60s, King was converging both great movements of the time – antiwar and civil rights, says Eikenberry, and “I was energized by the combination.” One day. Just a few hours, really. But Feb. 1, 1968, changed Manchester and the people who were here. Eikenberry, a longtime family physician in North Manchester, remembers Feb. 1 was dreary and rainy. There were a number of journalists and some demonstrators, mostly protesting King’s anti-war stance. The old auditorium where King spoke was standing room only. King influenced her parenting too, says Eikenberry, who raised her three sons to resolve their conflicts “through respectful dialogue.” “The emotional impact of being there, of hearing Dr. King, of being challenged to follow the path toward peace and justice was significant in many aspects of my social and moral choices over time,” says Joel Eikenberry. “It remains in my being to this day.” By Melinda Lantz ’81 VIDEO See the video at 16 |