For the first time in the school’s history, Bob Jones University observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day today.
That’s a pretty big deal for a fundamentalist Christian school that didn’t even accept black students until the 1970s and banned interracial dating until as recently as 2000 because “it breaks down the barriers God has established.”
To be sure, they didn’t exactly “celebrate” anything today. They just closed the campus, which is a small way of acknowledging the federal holiday. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
Jeffrey Hoffman, the Executive Director of BJUnity (an LGBT-affirming group for BJU alumni and students), said this is a big deal for the campus even if it may not seem like much outside that bubble.
When I was growing up at BJU, there was not a single name mentioned, when it was mentioned, with more revulsion than the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. His fight for civil rights and his legacy were mocked and derided.
Others have speculated as to the reasons for this about face today. I have my own theories, as well, but today I am just delighted that nearly 100 years after it’s founding, a little light has shown through the chinks of BJU’s racist and segregationist past. Tomorrow, I’ll challenge them to do even better. But this is a start and it deserves to be noted.
Fair enough. Golf claps all around for the Christian school that’s a little less racist today than it was yesterday.
It still has a long, long way to go when it comes to respecting the rights of people who aren’t exactly like them, but if the school can acknowledge its segregationist past, maybe it’ll come around in a few decades and admit LGBT people deserve some rights, too.
(Image via Stuff Fundies Like. Thanks to Amber for the link)