This week students from every background celebrated the life and message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., along with UM’s United Black Students [UBS].
“All I hope is that no one forgets what everyone in the past has done to get us to the point we’re at now,” said Bryan Jones, first vice president of UBS. “It’s not that long ago that things have changed.”
“Everything that Dr. King was saying then, we’re still trying to achieve now,” said UBS member Nia Grace. “It’s all still relevant.”
“Everyone should take better advantage of [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day] and use it as a way to become more educated and to learn,” Grace said. “It’s not just a day off from work; it’s a day to celebrate and appreciate the life and message of Dr. King.”
Events and activities for the week included a parade in Liberty City on Monday in honor of the national observance of the holiday, a candle light vigil on Tuesday, a forum entitled “His Dream: Where Are We Now?” and Jazz Night at the StormSurge Cafe.
“Throughout the entire week, we have been asking ourselves, ‘Have we taken any steps closer to achieving his dream?'” Grace said. “I think we have definitely come a long way and we need to continue to apply what [Dr. King] was saying then, now.”
Danielle Gilyot says she understands that many Americans may have not been fully exposed to the history of the Civil Rights Movement and that education begins in the home.
“The only way that a change can occur is through education,” Gilyot said. “Parents and teachers must educate themselves and sit down with their children and students and teach them about the freedom that Dr. King and so many before and after him have fought for.”
During the candlelight vigil around Lake Osceola on Tuesday participants sang “We Shall Overcome,” “I’m Gonna Let it Shine” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
“When you complain about someone holding you back, remember that Dr. King always tried to prevail,” Leslie Ann Brown, president of UBS, said before the Vigil procession. “Always remember to look to Dr. King for inspiration and know that you can be anything you want to be.”
David Bush of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and UBS says he is thankful for the fact that all of those involved have been blessed with the opportunity to receive a college education.
“We should all light the torches of others who don’t have the options or privileges that we have,” Bush said. “Sometimes we may take for granted how blessed we really are.”
Closing ceremonies for Martin Luther King Week will take place today on the UC Patio at noon.
Jorge Arauz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org