The Shoma Hall filled slowly as students trickled in grinning and greeting each other. Members of United Black Students (UBS) all wore their white org polo’s showing their pride to their organization. Brian Blake, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, sat off to the side, looking into his portfolio, preparing for his speech. They were ready for take-off.
The ceremony marked the beginning of UBS’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations.
To mark the occasion, Blake delivered a motivating and inspiring speech encouraging students to stand out and make themselves heard. He spoke of the diversity at UM and the benefits that can come from it.
“His speech was very enlightening, informative and eye-opening,” said senior Alexis Milton.
Senior Raina Bembry agreed with Blake’s message.
“We can’t fade into the background, we need to make our presence known,” she said. “We need to be seen.”
Blake previously worked at Georgetown University and Notre Dame University but was unimpressed with the events hosted by the black community at those schools. He is excited about UBS’s MLK celebrations and hopes to attend several of the events.
“I met with each one of the members individually and they’re all just so engaged,” Blake said. “It’s amazing.”