The Beloved Community Initiative works to explore and advance Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s concept of the Beloved Community in American society – a community based on social and economic justice and a common love for fellow human beings. Our efforts started through a partnership between Virginia Tech (VT) and Virginia Union University (VUU), and an Essay Contest where junior and senior high school students across the state of Virginia could explore the figures and history behind the conception of the Beloved Community. This essay contest was led by Dr. Virgil Wood, a veteran civil rights activist and former colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who joined VT’s School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) as the 2017 Ridenour Faculty Fellow and has continued serving the school as a Faculty Fellow.
That same year, we began a series of interviews with key leaders advancing the Beloved Community. Professor Sylvester Johnson, Founding Director of the Virginia Tech Center for Humanities at Virginia Tech, interviewed two key leaders in Beloved Community efforts: Dr. Virgil Wood, Church Leader, Educator, and Civil Rights Activist; and Dr. Owen C. Cardwell, Rosel Schewel Distinguished Chair of Education, University of Lynchburg.