Friday, January 22, 2010

Ceremonies honor Martin Luther King, Jr., at Michigan Tech

By Michele Bourdieu
Talisha Sutton, vice president of Michigan Tech's Black Student Association and student organizer of the Jan. 18 "I Have a Dream" speech, peace march and reception, addresses a crowd of students, faculty, staff and visitors in front of the Memorial Union Building. At left is Nicole White, Black Student Association president, and at right is Sutton's daughter, Sinai Sutton. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos and video clip by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)
HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's traditional Martin Luther King Day event, the "I Have a Dream" speech, attracted a large crowd Monday, Jan. 18, opening a week of activities honoring the civil rights leader. Although the university's classes were cancelled for the day, students,faculty, staff and visitors braved cold and snow to hear the speech and participate in a candlelight peace march and reception. Students from L'Anse High School and international students from Finlandia University also attended the event.

On Monday, Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Day, a crowd gathers in front of Michigan Tech's Memorial Union Building to hear King's "I Have a Dream" speech, opening a week of campus events honoring the famous civil rights leader.

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's traditional Martin Luther King Day event, the "I Have a Dream" speech, attracted a large crowd Monday, Jan. 18, opening a week of activities honoring the civil rights leader. Although the university's classes were cancelled for the day, students, faculty, staff and visitors braved cold and snow to hear the speech and participate in a candlelight peace march and reception. Students from L'Anse High School and international students from Finlandia University also attended the event.

Candles were distributed to participants attending the "I Have a Dream" speech, followed by a candlelight peace march to the Rozsa for a reception and program, organized by Michigan Tech's Black Student Association.

"An awesome turnout," said Kevin J. Walker, Michigan Tech African-American Outreach coordinator and a 2002 Tech graduate in Business. "It's really good to see the community supporting the legacy of Dr. King."

On Monday, Jan. 18, Kevin J. Walker, Michigan Tech African-American Outreach coordinator, addresses the crowd gathered outside the Memorial Union Building to hear King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, followed by a candlelight march to the Rozsa Center.

Walker opened the ceremonies with some historical background of the civil rights movement and an announcement of the week's activities at Michigan Tech honoring Dr. King. He then introduced Gregory Hardy, a second-year student in mechanical engineering, who read King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered during the 1963 March on Washington, D.C., a landmark event of the civil rights movement that attracted 250,000 participants.

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Gregory Hardy, Michigan Tech mechanical engineering student, reads Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech during the opening ceremony of a week of events honoring the civil rights leader. Members of the audience carry candles for the procession to the Rozsa Center, during which participants sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing," "We Shall Overcome" and "Amazing Grace."
Among the international students attending the event was Michigan Tech graduate student Pelinuor ("Pierre") Bekwone of Burkina Faso, West Africa.

"Many people in Africa have been affected in one way or another by the lives of various leaders of African roots throughout the world," Bekwone said. "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., just like Nelson Mandela to simply name a couple of them, inspired people and leavened existing endeavors for civil rights actualization. Through his fights and beliefs, Dr. King made significant history and left a great legacy that is partially perpetuated in Africa through history classes taught from middle school through high school. As a leader, Dr. King was able to bring about change, not just in America but also universally. He has been and will remain an inspiration and a role-model for many generations to come."

After the candlelight march from the Memorial Union Building to the Rozsa Center, a reception was held in the Rozsa Lobby with hot chocolate, cookies, donuts and chicken wings.

Nicole White, Michigan Tech Black Student Association president, welcomed visitors to the Rozsa program.

In the Rozsa lobby, following the candlelight march, Michigan Tech Black Student Association President Nicole White welcomes visitors to the program honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo © 2009 Ji Zhou, Finlandia University student)

Darius Watt, president of Michigan Tech's Society of African and African American Men, spoke about Dr. King's message of brotherhood.

"Dr. King inspires us to be real men," Watt said.

Darius Watt, president of Michigan Tech's Society of African and African American Men, speaks to the crowd in the Rozsa lobby about Dr. King's message of brotherhood and unity.

He noted King's philosophy never to look down on a man unless you're helping him up. An example was King's relationship with Malcolm X, with whom he had disagreements during the civil rights movement. Watt noted King realized both leaders were trying to do the same thing for African Americans.

"They just had two different ways of showing what they stood for," Watt said.

The program in the Rozsa also included a gospel song,"Grateful," performed by Kari L. Jordan, Michigan Tech graduate student in mechanical engineering and director of the Praise and Effect Gospel Choir on campus. She was accompanied by her brother, Al-Jawaan Jordan, on keyboard.

Kari L. Jordan, Michigan Tech graduate student and director of the Praise and Effect Gospel Choir, sings "Grateful," accompanied by her brother, Al-Jawaan Jordan, on keyboard.

Michigan Tech Dean of Students Gloria Melton was pleased with the turnout at Monday's Martin Luther King Day events.

"I think the turnout was wonderful," Melton said. "We appreciated seeing the students from L'Anse High School and Finlandia."

Michigan Tech University Dean of Students Gloria Melton, right, visits with Hancock residents Baron Colbert, Ph.D. student in civil engineering, and his wife, Karen Colbert, former Michigan Tech grad student, who is holding their son, Baron, Jr.

Baron and Karen Colbert brought all three of their children to the Martin Luther King Day event. From left, they are Taryn, Baron and Sharon.


Janese Roberson, Michigan Tech marketing and pre-law student, said, "I think that it's good to celebrate Martin Luther King. It brings a level of diversity to our university that we would not otherwise have."

Michigan Tech's week of activities honoring Dr. King will conclude with the annual MLK Banquet, set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, in the Memorial Union Ballroom. The guest speaker is Joe Rogers, former lieutenant governor of Colorado and founder of The Dream Alive Program. Rogers, who came to Tech for the 2005 MLK banquet, is an inspirational speaker who focuses on the heritage of King and other leaders of the civil rights movement.

2 comments:

K.L. Jordan said...

Hi Michele!

I was wondering if you could please update this post. My last name is Jordan now. Thanks so much!

Kari L. Jordan

Keweenaw Now said...

Yes, Kari. I've corrected it. Thanks for the update.