BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College drew more than 100 participants to its four-day Martin Luther King Day celebration and call to action.

The Jan. 18 event, “Honoring Dr. King: Reparations, Truth, and Reconciliation” drew more than 60 attendees including several local clergy members.

Dr. Tahirah J. Walker, Bethany’s first director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, led each of the events.

Though many think of reparation in terms of financial payments, Walker said it goes beyond that.

“Education is reparation,” she said. “Education is the commitment to never forgetting those who have been terrorized and marginalized. Education is committing to doing everything within institutional power to stop any further terrorizing or marginalization from occurring. Teaching and learning are acts of reparation that go high in the face of so many who have and are still going low.”

Featured speaker Keyante Eady, a Bethany freshman from Jacksonville, shared his struggles of growing up in poverty, sometimes sleeping outside and wondering where his next meal would come from. His best friend died in gun violence, and Eady lost his father months later.

“Here at Bethany, I don’t have to worry about looking over my shoulder,” Eady said. “I don’t have to worry about anyone taking anything … There’s only love here.”

Eady said he struggled academically early in his first semester. But he found people willing to help and who wouldn’t give up on him even when he didn’t make things easy.

“I’ve made the most growth in my life from one semester,” he said.

He says that he admires that Martin Luther King fought without violence, and Eady wants to offer hope to those who doubt it exists.

“It takes a soldier to stand up and feed love into someone who doesn’t even believe there is love in the world,” Eady said.

Walker acknowledged that not every student has had the same experience as Eady, and it is important for Bethany to give all students a voice and to focus on improvements in diversity, equity and inclusion.

On Jan. 20, Bethany baseball coach Justin Thomas and Director of Student-Athlete Success Meighan Julbert drew more than 90 people to “Victories and MVPs: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Athletics.”

After leading attendees through a “Did You Know?” of sports-related milestones by minorities, they opened the floor to a panel of coaches and others in the Athletics Department to discuss their challenges as minorities in their professions and playing careers and what can be done to improve.

“Actions have to speak louder than words,” Thomas said. “At some point we have stop saying and start doing, myself included. That is how we move forward.”

On Jan. 19, Bethany senior Jalen Best-Payten hosted the “Art and Resistance Online Paint Party.” On Jan. 21, Dr. Charline Rowland, associate professor and chair of the education department, Dr. Edward Shephard, associate professor of education, and a group of education students led a Martin Luther King trivia contest.

The MLK events coincided with the start of the spring semester at Bethany. With COVID-19 safety measures in place on campus, the events were held digitally.

A recap of the events is available on the Bethany College Diversity, Equity and Inclusion page on Canvas.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.