MLK Celebration Week takes place Jan. 14-18


The annual Martin Luther King Day Peace March on Jan. 18, 2016.

In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. presented his famed "I Have a Dream" speech, introducing a vision campus intends on celebrating in a week long show of events.

Multicultural Academic Student Services (MASS) is presenting the week long celebration at Central Michigan University Jan.14-19. Events are designed to honor King and his mission to educate, serve and advance equal opportunity. 

"I think CMU having a week of this nature really helps embody what Dr. King stood for," said D'Wayne Jenkins, MASS assistant director for cultural programming and mentoring. 

The week is sponsored by the Collective Action for Cultural Unity, the Motions, Program Board and Mile in Our Shoes. 

Jenkins said through this celebration week, CMU is able to shed light the importance of unity as people come together for the variety of events taking place on campus. 

He said the primary goal of the event is for participants to leave empowered, educated and inspired to make the world a better place.

The celebration will kick off with the Miss Black and Gold Scholarship Pageant at 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14 in the Bovee University Center Rotunda. The pageant is hosted by the Rho Delta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. 

"This program will be highlighting and celebrating the lives and talent of some of the young African American women students on campus," Jenkins said. 

This particular type of pageant was introduced at the Alpha Phi Alpha National Convention of 1976. Contestants will be judged in a success-focused environment with scholarship prizes. Jenkins said the fraternity's participation is specifically unique because it's also the one King belonged to during his time studying at Boston University in 1951-1955. 

Detroit senior Kiera Vaughn will be attending the pageant and said it blends well with the values King struck in her as an African American woman. 

"He helps me standout as what an African American woman should be, which is strong, educated and ambitious. It is because of him I can trust in myself that I have no limits," Vaughn said. 

Vaughn said King's memory goes hand-in-hand with self empowerment and education, which encourages people of all genders, races and backgrounds to pursue their goals.  

Monday's events will commence with the MLK CommUnity Peace Brunch, starting at 9 a.m. in Finch Fieldhouse. 

Jenkins said the brunch is one of the week's high points, as it tends to attract up to 700 participants. 

The brunch will feature guest speaker Bishop Travis Hall from Life Church International in Atlanta, Georgia. Hall also served as Lead Pastor of Faith Community Church, in Mount Pleasant for 10 years.

"The brunch is really one of my favorite events because it brings so many people together," Jenkins said, adding its combination of guest performances and student-led oratorical presentations tend to merge many people together in a very clear way. 

Jenkins said the room will be filled with different people of diverse backgrounds and will initiate the sensation of fulfilling King's dream. 

The brunch will transition to the MLK Day of Service that is sponsored by the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center. 

Students can sign up to volunteer at different events on the center's OrgSync page. 

Opportunities will include open sessions with the David Garcia Project and Safer Sex Patrol, along with picture frame making with the Adopt-a-Grandparent program, Bookmarks for Literacy, Cards for the Future and the Fleece Blanket Project. 

Michala Webb, a student assistant for Pathways to Academic Student Success, a program for first generation students, said King's values have inspired not only community service on this national holiday, but every day. 

"I feel that the values you come across during this holiday are the values you should have anyway for every time you wake up for the day," the Detroit junior said. "Dr. King gives us the understanding that our life is not about just serving ourselves. "It's about serving and building up others." 

Webb said Monday's programs provide a good visual representation of people coming together, especially once the CommUnity Peace March & Vigil kicks off at 3 p.m. 

The route begins at the UC and travels to downtown Mount Pleasant, where a vigil will take place. 

Jenkins said the march consistently attracts students and community members of all ages each year — elementary, junior high and high school students from throughout the Mount Pleasant area. 

Redford senior Kayla Greenhill said one of her favorite memories from freshman year is making the march downtown. 

"(I had) never heard of the march before and had no idea what it was," Greenhill said. "Although it was cold outside and the walk was long, I felt powerful and just fine all the way through." 

Other events include: 

  • Student and staff poetry event, A Night of Reflection: Inspired Poems and Spoken Word taking place Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the University Center Rotunda. 
  • Keynote speaker Dr. Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University will be presenting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Plachta Auditorium. Dyson is a Professor of Sociology and has written several books such as "Tears We Cannot Stop" and "Holler if you hear me," both discussing race and segregation in the United States. 
  • A Tunnel of Oppression exhibition open on Thursday from 4-8 p.m. in the University Center Rotunda. This event is sponsored by A Mile in Our Shoes, an advocacy and education group spotlighting minority groups on campus. 
  • The MLK Staff and Student Charity Basketball Game on Friday at 6 p.m. in the Students Activities Center. The event will be held in the Small Sports Forum and donations will be accepted by a charity to be determined by MASS. 


About Samantha Shriber

Samantha Shriber is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life and is a Saint Clair Shores ...

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