CMU 'commUNITY' gathers to remember Martin Luther King Jr. in day of service

First event in a week of celebration kicks off


Cedric Taylor, sociology faculty member, speaks at the CommUNITY Peace Service on Monday, Jan. 18 in Platcha Auditorium.

Central Michigan University's annual week celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. kicked off with the CommUNITY Peace Service on MLK Day, Monday, Jan. 18.

The two hour event took place virtually from Plachta Auditorium, in place of the annual brunch. Several people were invited to speak about King, his legacy and the importance of continuing his work.

The event started a week full of daily events hosted by Multicultural Academic Student Services (MASS) to honor MLK and encourage activism.

President Bob Davies described his experience learning to recognize his own privilege and how he plans to use what he has learned to better CMU in his opening remarks.

Other speakers included  Director of MASS James Span Jr. and President of the CMU chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, the fraternity King belonged to, Patrick Riley.

The annual "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Contest" is an annual essay writing contest hosted by MASS for students consider the messages of Dr. King and how they are relevant today. Finalists have the opportunity to read their essay at the CommUNITY Peace Brunch.

This years' winner Cameron Mahone read his essay during the live streamed event.

The event also included performances from Christ Central Choir and last year’s oratorical contest winner, Matthew King.

Cedric Taylor, sociology faculty member, was the keynote speaker and gave a speech highlighting the importance of youth-led activism.

He praised student organizations including the New America Project, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and the Refugee Outreach Collective for their work.

Taylor compared the current racial climate to the 1950s and 1960s, calling 2020 “a year of racial reckoning” and emphasized the work of young activists calling for social change. 

“Many of our youth see the injustice and urgently want to change it,” Taylor said. “And quite frankly, now more than ever, they embody King’s radicalism.”

Stan Shingles, interim vice president and chief diversity officer, closed the event by describing his memories growing up in Chicago’s West Side and witnessing the Chicago Freedom Movement led by King.

He reflected on the similarities between the movement he witnessed as a child in Chicago and the movement his grandchildren are currently witnessing in Minnesota, where Black Lives Matter protests took place over the summer.

“I thought to myself, ‘How will their lives be impacted? What will they remember in 50 years?’” Shingles said.

MLK week will continue Tuesday, Jan.19, with a showing of the movie “Black America Since MLK” via Webex from 6:30-8:30 p.m.