Rev Dee Dawkins Haigler 2021 MLK speaker
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Office of Communications

Voorhees MLK speaker explains how students can aid in change

Rev. Dee Dawkins-Haigler recently delivered a message on the importance of where black people go from here during the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. virtual celebration. 

Dawkins-Haigler asked the students what will be your contributions to the beloved community; Dr. King fought so hard for his people to have. “Voorhees Scholars, how do we obtain the beloved community when we find ourselves struggling to truly achieve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” 

She said the answer begins with each one of the students. In 1967, she said Dr. King was speaking to students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia, and he asked them what their life’s blueprint was. 

“We are all built with a blueprint that should leave a legacy. What do you want people to say about the structure of your life. People will judge you based on the life you live, and each generation faces different challenges.” 

Dawkins-Haigler went on to say that certain areas of society will have people to believe Black people are uneducated, violent, and dangerous. “We came here by way of our ancestors to build this country, but yet here we are still trying to be made whole.” 

She said that even with our struggles, black people will be alright and cannot allow what is said about us to tear us down but instead see the bigger picture. “With all the atrocities happening around us such as getting shot while walking, driving, or being at home while black, and others storming a federal building but being able to do so because their skin tone is different, understand we are going to be alright.” 

Dawkins-Haigler said, “Voorhees College, it is up to you to do what is needed, and you all are the ones we have been waiting on. We need you, young people, to be in this fight. We have a buying power of $1.3 trillion, which means we have the power to change systems with our wealth if we band together. So it is imperative we put our money where our mouth is.” 

Referring back to King’s speech at Barratt, Dawkins-Haigler said he told them instead of being about burn baby burn, we need to be about learn baby learn to earn baby earn. “Students have to continue to learn baby learn so you can earn baby earn. We need you all to be the best of the best and not let anyone tell you all what you cannot do. We are the most resilient people on earth and are kings and queens.” 

She ended by asking the students again, where do we go from here? “Sometimes we have to go with what we used to do and mix old school with the new school. Run for our office, protest, knock on doors, do sit-ins, and do it together. We must learn if one fails, we all fail. This is the legend Dr. King wanted us to understand. God will never leave us nor forsake us, so now we work together to create change while building your blueprint.” 

For more information, contact the Office of Communications, at 803-780-1191 or at 

About Voorhees University

Voorhees University, founded by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright in 1897, is a private, coeducational institution affiliated with the Episcopal Church and the United Negro College Fund. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and graduate degrees. Its mission is to produce highly qualified graduates who coalesce intellect and faith in pursuit of life-long learning, healthy living, the betterment of society, and an abiding faith in God. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Voorhees as a #1 best value, #3 in social mobility and #33 among regional colleges in the south in 2022-2023; and #26 among Historically Black Colleges and Universities, nationally. Additional information about Voorhees University can be found at


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