Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Continues to Be Heard
With the students’ appreciation of no class on Monday, Jan. 20, all eyes looked to the federal holiday dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. MLK Day is a celebration of the great man’s life and the values he brought awareness to, honoring his birthday every year. Fittingly, the Diversity Advisory Board, Black Student Alliance, and the Women’s and Diversity Initiative collaborated to sponsor the “I Have a Dream” talks presented to the student body on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22.
While the majority of Americans know of the holiday and its impact on civil and economic justice, less have actually heard King’s full speech from that glorious day of Aug. 28, 1963 in Washington DC. For this reason, DAB Chair, Suzie Roth decided to play the audience the speech with an interactive discussion following. Roth provided attendees with the transcript as well as useful cheat sheets, to explain the phrases that may not currently carry the same meaning they did in the 60s. In attendance were numerous students, as expected, but also quite a few faculty members, including Jason Langston, Director of Housing, and Melanie Wilson, Director of the Women’s and Diversity Center.
To start the conversation, Roth opened the floor to anyone who had an insight to present in response or alignment with King’s speech. The shared perspective was one of respect and admiration for King’s words of courage, “. . . it is amazing how someone who was so influential 50 years ago continues to inspire us today,” student Haidee Wesala reasoned. Comments like this opened the discussion to King’s impact then and now, and whether he would be proud of the state this country is currently in. Not to go into too much depth, but current news, cultural trends, and personal stories were shared, to better understand opinions and compare drastically different experiences people have had in this country.
As the event came to a close, participants seemed satisfied with the direction the conversation went. The audience left with a better understanding of King’s speech and his eternal message of equality, fitting for the upcoming Black History Month and every month thereafter. With this mindset, there is optimism for a just future, but not without diligence and the willingness for acceptance. This event was a call to carry on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s determination and purpose, and not just on Jan. 20 of every year.