Snowy weather, icy sidewalks and below-freezing temperatures were no match for hundreds of people during Central Michigan University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day March.
The march, which began in the Bovee University Center, circled campus and ended with a vigil downtown, aiming to bring awareness and action against racism in America.
Some CMU students believe the topic of race is a prevalent issue in society today.
“There’s evidence of racism everywhere,” said Marie Reimers, president of the Student Government Association. “That’s proven just in asking a person of color if they can name a situation in which they’ve experienced racism. The answer is almost always ‘yes.’”
Reimers referred to recent political and social acts to further explain the presence of racism in the U.S. today.
“The Supreme Court rolling back the Voting Rights Act, the fact that one of three black men will be incarcerated in their lifetime and voter ID laws are just a few examples,” the Saginaw junior said. “We can see (racism) all over the place, and that’s why it’s so important on days like this to choose to reflect and start fighting (racism) again.”
Southfield senior Danielle Cook said she sees events such as the march as a step in the right direction.
“In America, we aren’t a post-racial society,” Cook said. “There’s still disproportionate inequalities between races, but I think we’re getting there. I think we’re on a path. It’s just about people getting together every year, remembering people like Martin Luther King Jr. and what he stood for, and really trying to live that every day.”
Cook, a member of Sigma Lambda Gamma, a historically Latina-based sorority, said racism can impact anybody and awareness is key.
“As a black woman at CMU and in 2014, I think it’s really exciting for events like this to be widely publicized at a university,” she said. “It’s a testament to our character that so many people actually show up when they could just take a day off and not do anything.”
To students who didn’t take the time to acknowledge MLK Jr. Day, Reimers had one thing to say.
“I would ask you to re-examine history and re-examine your place in history,” she said. “Especially to our white students, to know how significant this day is to our colleagues of color, and the role that it played in history. It’s not just a day that we have off – it’s a day that you need to take the time to reflect on where you are and what your goal of ending racism is.”
For one CMU student, the march has a deeper meaning.
“Coming to events like this lets me know that other people appreciate this day. It’s not just a ‘black thing,’” said Sydni Lockhart, a Detroit senior. “It’s something that we can all come together to embrace. Dr. King started the march, but we’re continuing it every day.”