The Robert L Polk Amphitheater

The Robert L Polk Amphitheater

Right before Easter, Bob Polk got a call from the President of UCC-related Doane University in Crete, Nebraska informing him that the university is naming their newly built amphitheater in his honor. They also want to invite him to speak at this year’s commencement ceremonies. From Doane’s President, Dr. Roger Hughes:

“Your life has been fully dedicated to authentically transforming the lives you have encountered and the communities where you have led-demonstrating resolve and steadfastness even when you may have been the only one pushing for change and social justice. You have been the trailblazer in spaces, even when those places didn’t recognize they needed to change.

Doane College, now Doane University, is one of those institutions you transformed by forever redefining who belongs at the university. When the university dean initially denied you admission because no white student wanted to be your roommate, your inclusive vision for Doane was more powerful than the injustice in front of you. Alongside your white roommate, the late Dr. Donald Goodrich, you taught the college an unforgettable lesson and altered our trajectory towards a more fair and just place of learning.
You became Doane College’s first Black graduate in 1952, a historic moment that reminds us of where we have been and where we have yet to go to ensure Doane is a home for all students, faculty, and staff. Our university community today continues to be influenced by your leadership through the lectureship you founded, the Robert L. Polk Lectureship on Race and Social Justice.

Because of your lasting legacy and continued impact on Doane University, it is my great honor to inform you that Doane University’s newly built amphitheater will be officially named the Robert L. Polk Amphitheater. This space will raise the voices of Doane students and community members as they deliver speeches and performances to audiences. You have inspired generations of individuals and communities nationwide to stand up and speak up especially for the rights of historically underrepresented and underserved communities-and we hope that generations ahead will make positive change directly from the Robert L. Polk Amphitheater.”

And there’s a lot of history — and Bob’s adult life of ministry and service! — between that first denial of admission and these honors now!

We probably aren’t surprised by any of this, because we know Bob and all his gifts and graces. But let’s be thankful that others also recognize his gifts. And in times like these, when hope can be hard to hold on to, we need more stories like this.

Watch a tribute video to Bob Polk here: