Martin Luther King, Jr. | Web Update

University honors Martin Luther King, Jr. legacy

Published: January 16, 2012, 9:23 pm ET
Josh Grice/The Collegian
Collegian Staff

Readings, dance and song honored Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday afternoon during the university’s annual community gathering.

The commemoration, Martin Luther King Day, 2012:Dream, Think, Act, was held at 2 p.m. in Camp Concert Hall. King, a Nobel Prize-winning civil rights activist, was assassinated in 1968.

Dorothy Holland, host of the commemoration and chairwoman of theatre and dance, before introducing the first performance, said: “In the Civil Rights Movement, there is much to celebrate today. There is also much still left to fight for, to struggle for and to overcome.”

The Ngoma African Dance Ensemble was first to honor King with a dance called “Lamban.” Junior member Adowa Asante said that the dance symbolized soundness of body and mind, and was also a welcome or celebration for royal families.

“As we celebrate Dr. King’s legacy, we would like to celebrate our healthy minds and bodies that enable us to dream, think, and act,” Asante said.

Members from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., of which King was a member, presented a video to the audience of their trip to King’s memorial in Washington D.C. The memorial opened in August last year and has been visited by more than two million people, according to the National Memorial Project Foundation.

Senior Dwayne Foster, president of Alpha, said, “I’m here because I think MLK day is a day for reflection and service.” Foster said he thought many people used the national holiday off from work or school to sleep or party, and instead should use the day to honor King and his dream.

“This is the time to reflect on what MLK did and to ask yourself, ‘What am I doing to keep the dream moving?’”

Other students and Greek organizations, as well as a choir from the community, honored King at the celebration.

One of the student performers, junior Cheyenne Varner, linked King’s vision of social equality and justice to human trafficking in her presentation, “Two Women.”

“It basically just originated out of me learning different information about what human trafficking is and what it looks like,” Varner said. “And, it’s supposed to really say that ‘Yes, It does happen in the U.S. now, today.’”

Holland said during the performances she had felt an undertone of real spirit and thought the commemorations were both joyous and reflective of King.

At 3 p.m., some students and faculty gathered in a demonstration in the Forum to suggest better ways to honor King. The demonstration, led by junior Lakita Eason, was a campus-wide protest that encouraged students to walk out of their classes and attend a discussion on King and recognition of the holiday on campus.

“There were other, more aggressive parts of the Civil Rights Movement,” Eason said. “It wasn’t all passive.” She said she thought that those parts of King’s legacy and others were often overlooked.

Andrea Simpson, chairwoman of the political science department, said at the protest, “Martin Luther King has become the Santa Claus of the Civil Rights movement.”

Eason said Simpson had acted as a mentor to help her launch the protest, which was led to advocate for the university’s observance of King’s day with a day off from classes, during which students would attend mandatory workshops on social equality and change.

“There’s plenty of room for change and growth,” she said.

Contact staff writer Keon Monroe at keon.monroe@richmond.edu.

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  • Lakita Eason

    We also discussed the level of apathy of UR students towards the issue of social change and diversity and the NEED for students to speak UP and not just amongst themselves. Just putting that out there, but great job Keon :) Thank You.

    • Marie Vern

       I don’t understand how you can talk about the level of apathy of UR students toward the issue of social change.  Yes, some students do seem apathetic, but there have been a lot of great movements towards producing social change, like with regard to stopping human trafficking, improving inclusivity on campus (Cultural Advisors), improving global health and microcredit finance through the SSIR communities, etc.  Even the multifaith council is working towards dialogue through trips and discussions.  Students ARE speaking up, but sometimes, we focus too much on one issue and don’t see what else students are speaking up about.  Just my two cents.

      • Lakita Eason

        I think you misunderstood what my goals/purpose was. If you would have attended the forum it would’ve been made very clear. There are plenty of people that think I am undermining the progress already made at UR. I’m not. I’ve stated that countless time, but this is first time you’ve probably heard it. I want the progress to go FURTHER. And you’re right, I am focusing on one issue, it’s not my job nor my obligation to be a Jack of all Trades and focus on every single issue of social change at UR. As a black student I’m focusing on the issue(s) that most directly affects me and people who share the same sentiments as I do. I applaud those that put in work for the issues that are important to them, so please don’t come down on me for focusing on the issues that are important to me. I can definitely explain this to you better in person, look me up on FB (Lakita Michelle) and let’s meet in person :)