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Call and Response

The Call of King’s Dream and Denison’s Response of Hope

Denison University's 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Learning centers around the idea of responding to Dr. King’s call for us to live a life of activism and service. The tradition of call and response reflects the vibrant cultural context out of which King’s life of activism emerged.

Call and response is:  

A speech pattern which characterizes the expressive and dynamic characteristics of African-American speech … It derives its meaning from religious sequences in which the minister issues a “call” to which the audience responds through words or actions.  Informed by African-American oral traditions, the pattern also finds its origin and function in art; developed in spirituals and songs, call-and-response has a communal nature, valuing audience improvisation and performance. The artist and audience work together in making the result of the interaction meaningful and functional for the community (Boone, 2003; Sale, 1992).

We invoke this notion of call and response to offer our community the opportunity to respond to Dr. King’s call for action and to develop our personal, professional, and civic responsibility to each other, to the communities around us and in solidarity with global communities.

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