Sunday, February 10, 2019

Michigan Tech's Center for Diversity and Inclusion hosts inspiring speakers at MLK Banquet, sponsors coming Black History Month events

By Michele Bourdieu

At Michigan Tech's 30th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet, keynote speaker Donzell Dixson challenges the audience to be "FEARLESS Like Dr. King." (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

HOUGHTON -- At Michigan Tech's 30th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet on Jan. 21, 2019, students, faculty, staff and community members were inspired by the young keynote speaker, Donzell Dixson, a 2014 Michigan Tech graduate who has, in a few years, become a talented motivational presenter. Dixson spoke on being "FEARLESS Like Dr. King."

The Banquet was also an occasion for presenting Michigan Tech's first Bayard Rustin award -- to Darnishia Slade, a 1998 Tech graduate, who presently serves as manager of Global Engagement Programs for Tech's Pavlis Honors College. In addition, Kamara Taylor, Michigan Tech lecturer in Cognitive and Learning Sciences, presented a dramatic reading of "I Too Am America." The Banquet kicked off Martin Luther King Jr. week, with related events sponsored by the university's Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI).

Black History Month Events

UPDATED: Ilyasah Shabazz, the third daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, will speak at 7:30 p.m. on TUESDAY, FEB. 26, in the Rozsa Center. The event is part of Black History Month at Michigan Tech. Please note change of date. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

This month CDI will sponsor at least three events for Black History Month at Michigan Tech: "A History of Whiteness," presented by Rachel Jones and CDI, from  12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, in the MUB Ballroom; "Is Our Campus an Island? Exploring Diversity and Inclusion with the Keweenaw Culture Project," presented by Josh Loar and CDI, 4:05 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27, in Rekhi Hall G05, Jackson Active Learning Center; and Ilyasah Shabazz, the third daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, who will speak at 7:30 p.m. TUESDAY, Feb. 26, in the Rozsa Center. (Please note date change for Ilyasah Shabazz.)

Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet

As a welcoming introduction to the Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet, Kamara Taylor, Michigan Tech lecturer in Cognitive and Learning Sciences, presented a dramatic reading of "I Too Am America." Taylor said she composed the piece, a derivative of the poem "I Too" by Langston Hughes, during her visit to the Lorraine Motel -- now a museum, the place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.*

Kamara Taylor, Michigan Tech lecturer in Cognitive and Learning Sciences, presents a dramatic reading of "I Too Am America." (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

This year Michigan Tech's Center for Diversity and Inclusion, for the first time, gave a "Bayard Rustin Award" named for Martin Luther King's behind-the-scenes African American advisor on non-violence and civil rights. Rustin was also an organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King gave his historic "I Have A Dream" speech.** The winner of the award, Darnishia Slade, told the audience why she returned to work at Michigan Tech:

Darnishia Slade, manager of global engagement programs for Michigan Tech's Pavlis Honors College, accepts the university's first Bayard Rustin award, a new tradition that recognizes an influential advisor and behind-the-scenes advocate for civil rights and equity. Slade, a 1998 graduate of Michigan Tech, explains how she hopes in her work to help under-represented students.

Betty Chavis, left, now retired, who recruited Darnishia Slade for Michigan Tech -- and who, in addition to working with many student groups, developed Black History Week at Michigan Tech to showcase African American accomplishments in the United States -- is pictured here at the MLK Banquet with Slade and Chris Anderson, retired special assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity.

Keynote Address: "FEARLESS Like Dr. King," by Donzell Dixson

Addressing this year's theme for Michigan Tech's Martin Luther King Jr. week, "Living Fearlessly," Donzell Dixson gave examples of Dr. King's fearlessness on many occasions during his life. Dixson also spoke of his own fears -- how he overcomes them and how Dr. King's courage inspires him to speak out.

Donzell Dixson, a 2014 Michigan Tech University graduate, begins his keynote speech at the 2019 Michigan Tech Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet. Dixson speaks about overcoming his own fears as a student at Michigan Tech and later -- as a public speaker.

During his speech, Dixson showed a video clip of King speaking shortly before he was assassinated and photos of King in prison. Dixson noted King's selfless fearlessness in the face of threats, prison and death during the Civil Rights Movement.

Noting King's fearlessness and moral courage, Donzell Dixson shows a video clip of King speaking shortly before he was assassinated.

Dixson then gave examples of his own experience -- learning about the courage to speak out, not for himself alone, but for others.***

Donzell Dixson, a 2014 Michigan Tech graduate, concludes his presentation, "Fearless Like Dr. King," during the 2019 Michigan Tech MLK Banquet. Kellie Raffaelli, assistant dean and CDI director, who invited Dixson, leaves the audience with some inspiring quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.

Betty Chavis commented positively on Donzell Dixson's presentation.

"It was excellent," she said. "I think he did a marvelous job. I was impressed."

Gloria Melton, retired Michigan Tech Dean of Students, was also pleased to hear Dixson's talk at the Banquet.

"I didn't know him as a student," Melton noted, "but I'm very encouraged to see in him the fruits of the efforts at Michigan Tech for diversity and inclusion."

Betty Chavis, left, and Gloria Melton were both happy to attend the MLK Banquet and very impressed by Donzell Dixson's presentation.

Notes:

* Click here to read Kamara Taylor's account of her reaction to visiting the hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

** Read about Bayard Rustin here.

*** Learn more about Donzell Dixson on his Web site.

No comments: