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EDITORIAL: What do you stand for?

With many opportunities to get involved in social justice activism, CMU students should not stand on the sidelines


The annual Martin Luther King Day Peace March took place on Jan. 18, 2016. It began at the Bovee University Center and made a loop through campus before heading into downtown Mount Pleasant for the peace vigil.

On the cusp of the most polarizing transition of presidential power in modern politics, Monday America will celebrate the achievements of arguably our greatest civil rights leader.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was created around the activist’s birthday to celebrate his mission of fighting racial segregation through nonviolent protest. Most commonly remembered for his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, King spent the bulk of his life organizing peaceful protests across the country. He became known as the most prominent Civil Rights era activist by attempting to unify a divided country with powerful prose.

His answer to segregation, discrimination and violence was to preach nonviolence, compassion and unity.

Today, most educational institutions use the national holiday and the week surrounding it to educate younger generations on King’s legacy — and others who are still unaware or misguided on what King stood for. Ahead of King’s holiday, we honor that legacy.

Thank you, Dr. King, for your struggle and sacrifice.

At Central Michigan University, we pride ourselves in our community’s work to build on that legacy. At the beginning of the 2016-17 academic year, CMU was nationally recognized with a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award for demonstrating its efforts to make on-campus diversity and inclusion a top priority.

Next week, student groups, professors and university offices plan to live up to those ideals. A host of events highlighting King’s contributions to racial equality are scheduled all week.

For busy college students, it’s easy to see Monday as nothing more than a day off of classes — an extension of the weekend after syllabus week. But as students representing a new generation of change makers, we must stay vigilant in propelling King’s vision for common ground across all demographics, colors and creeds.

We encourage CMU students to take part in MLK Week activities, no matter their racial backgrounds or political ideologies. There are endless opportunities to continue the historic momentum King started.

While we have a day off on Monday to honor King, we encourage students to use that day to keep fighting for equality. We ask CMU students to question their commitments to social justice.

Will you take part in the peace march on campus Monday, and walk with fellow community members in the name of civil rights for all men and women? Will you work to protect the freedoms of both birthright citizens and immigrants combined?

We hope your answer is yes.

Our most recent presidential election showed the nation that many people in this country are failing to grapple with a stark reality: Soon, America will no longer be a predominantly white nation. This shift toward a multicultural society is reflected in our microcosm at CMU with the university’s diverse 2016-17 freshman class.

With more people of color than ever before, in a chilling climate of polarization and echo chambers, we must intentionally try harder to seek the common ground sought by King and others.

Standing idly by is no longer an option we can afford.