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Miami U. educator: Martin Luther King’s battle crossed all boundaries of diversity

Bennyce Hamilton is the director of diversity and multi-cultural services at Miami University’s regional campuses.
Bennyce Hamilton is the director of diversity and multi-cultural services at Miami University’s regional campuses.

Fifty years since Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tenn., Bennyce Hamilton said it’s time to be “hopeful for a change for the better instead of being hatefu.”

Hamilton, director of diversity and multi-cultural services at Miami University’s regional campuses, was just 6 years old at the time of King’s assassination. Now, in her position with Miami, she said her aim is to carry the diversity torch that an assassin’s bullet tried to extinguish at 7:01 p.m. April 4, 1968.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Credit: DaytonDailyNews

“It’s my job to continue to push that agenda forward,” said Hamilton, who serves students in the Middletown, Hamilton and West Chester Twp. campuses.

Some people, Hamilton said, believed King fought only for blacks. Instead, she said, his battle crossed all boundaries of diversity.

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“He fought for equality for all people,” Hamilton said. “We’re still in that fight. Fighting for equal rights for everybody. He was at the place pulling people together, all different backgrounds. The picture was bigger than black and white.”

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Credit: DaytonDailyNews

To illustrate that point, pictures of Miami’s students hang in Hamilton’s office. It’s obvious, she said, that the students look different, but what’s hidden is their sexuality, religious beliefs, military status and disability.

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For our country to ultimately reach King’s dream, people must set aside their pre-conceived notions and misgivings about others, she noted. She believes today’s younger people — those 20 and under — are better prepared to embrace diversity. They have traveled more, experienced more of the world, than older generations, she said.