COLUMN: Become 'united' with your university by participating in MLK day activities


Students participate in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Peach March Jan. 20 on campus.

I woke up on Jan. 15 before each of my roommates, I showered and was out the door as they were rising from their cozy beds. There was going to be no day off for me, my Monday goal was to be a representation of Martin Luther King Jr.'s benevolent legacy.

The Multicultural Academic Student Services office continued its annual tradition of dedicating the third week of January to King's life. The numerous events and activities offer students a chance to educate themselves about the importance of diversity.

King was shot and killed on April 4, 1968. On April 3, however, he delivered his final speech, "I Have Been to the Mountaintop," in which he cries, "let us maintain unity!"

I believe CMU's annual MLK Day celebrations keep King's visions of unity alive and strong. I encourage all CMU students to participate in MLK Day celebrations and share my outstanding experience.

That day, I offered myself to a day of community service and left with a better understanding of servitude and unity.

Thanks to the volunteer work, I understand that King’s teachings can extend far beyond eradicating racial discrimination. His words can be applied to all branches of servitude. 

With the help of the Student Food Pantry, my peers and I made hundreds of snack packs for hungry Mount Pleasant citizens.

Our keynote speaker, communication faculty member Shelly Hinck said that King also encourages us to fight poverty, to care for the child in the failing school, fill the empty bellies of the hungry, to care for the incarcerated and much more.

Following my volunteer work, I geared myself up for the long march to downtown Mount Pleasant. Dozens were crammed elbow-to-elbow into the Bovee University Center lobby only to come face-to-face with the frigid January afternoon.

We followed police cruisers down the salted streets. The cold's vicious bite turned my pale face to a deep crimson. Our teeth chattered vigorously, eyes squinted against the frozen wind. Our hands burrowed in our pockets except for the those who carried signs against their chests.

The Greek houses of Main Street cheered us on from their snowy driveways. Then, the onlookers became Mount Pleasant residents smiling through their windows at the passing group.

I had a burning desire to be near the front of the crowd. I politely made my way past the many bundled bodies. As we passed Maple Street, the sweet voices of the Christ Central Choir and other participants began warming our hearts like hot chocolate. 

At this moment, I felt the power of community. It was like seeing my favorite band with my favorite friends at my favorite venue, although this performance did much more than entertain. 

The crowd had transformed from hundreds of colorful individuals to one beautiful portrait. Each of my peers became more than my fellow student, we became a community built on empathy. The crowd became a great arm that reached for a common goal, equality among humanity.

At that moment I couldn't feel the bite of winter.