President Crutcher reflects on experiences with Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King

January 15, 2021

University News

When President Ronald A. Crutcher was a teenager growing up in Cincinnati, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made several appearances at the church that Crutcher’s family attended. He writes about hearing Dr. King speak and meeting Coretta Scott King at Zion Baptist in his forthcoming memoir. Crutcher says he still draws inspiration from those experiences.

“I have kept Dr. King’s teachings close to my heart my entire life,” Crutcher said. “Anytime our nation faces a civil rights crisis or violence, I always turn to Volume V: ‘Threshold of a New Decade’ of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. series, given to me by one of Dr. King’s lieutenants, Dr. Bernard Lafayette. Those texts are a constant source of inspiration and guidance for me, and I have often quoted from them when I write letters to our community about our ongoing efforts to build a more inclusive Richmond.”

During a particularly polarized era, Crutcher says the words of Dr. King can help navigate divisiveness.

“I often think about Dr. King’s concept of the beloved community,” Crutcher said. “In order for the beloved community to come to fruition, it requires people from all creeds and colors to talk to each other, interact with each other, and respect each other based on their common humanity. Dr. King would say: ‘Love your neighbor.’ I would say let’s start with respect, at a minimum. If we can respect diverse backgrounds and diverse perspectives, we will be well on our way toward having more meaningful conversations across barriers and finding common ground."