A crowd of about 50 people chanted “Because of King, we all have a dream,” at the Freedom for All March Saturday at Grinnell Hall as they celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Starting Sunday, the two-week homage to King heightened the anticipation for the beginning of the MLK events. Planned since last September, the themed commemoration, “Live Your Dream,” was planned to help raise awareness of King’s legacy and those who were involved in the civil rights movement.
The university-funded commemoration offered food, films, speeches, a voter registration drive, march and rally.
For Monday’s event, students, faculty and community members assembled for the Freedom for All March in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and others. Students celebrated King’s dream of “guaranteed rights of life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Chancellor Rita Cheng attended the rally and said SIU welcomed African-American students before many universities across the country did. She said the university is working toward King’s dream.
“Everyday we work to provide not only access to education but access to success,” Cheng said.
Corbin Doss, a junior from Springfield studying civil engineering, said he became involved in the continued movement through the rally and march.
“King has changed life in the U.S. by bringing people together,” he said. “SIU wouldn’t be what it is today without him.”
Doss, president of Alpha Phi Alpha, an all-black fraternity which King was a member of, said SIU can now, thanks to King, let people of all races work together and attend the same classes.
Alexandra Desrosiers, a freshman at Carbondale High School, said she agreed.
“In Carbondale you can see a lot of diversity, not just at the high school and university, but even in the middle schools,” Desrosiers said. “The world has changed because it doesn’t really matter anymore if you’re black, white, Asian or Mexican.”
Some students said being involved in the movement allowed them to feel a sense of empowerment with their classmates, which at one time was not possible.
Carl W. Ervin, coordinator of the Black Resource Center, said King’s dream is slowly but surely being fulfilled today.
“We are moving forward but still have problems. The hope to empower people to be that change is the goal for the march,” he said.
Chris Shelton, a graduate student from Chicago in education, said community members tend to get distracted by technology and other daily routines.
“We need to get back to the essence of organization, community service, civic involvement, and holding each other accountable,” he said. “We could push each other to be progressive.”
Byron Madison, a senior from Cairo studying computer science, helped coordinate the event and said he hopes the march will promote togetherness. The march is a tool to encourage the community and students to take action and ignite the dream, he said.
Bethany Wendler, coordinator for Student Involvement and Leadership Development, said the best way to solve a problem is to shine light on it and not ignore it.
The Black Resource Center planned the march and other events during the next two weeks in remembrance of MLK.
“It is a public display of unity toward a cause that must not be forgotten by the public,” said Douglas Calhoun, graduate assistant at the Center for Inclusive Excellence.
Sponsored by SIU and community organizations
Voice Your Dream Workshop
6 p.m. today at the Mississippi Room
MLK Remembrance Featuring keynote speaker: David Goodson
7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18 at the John C. Guyon Auditorium
Beyond the Dream: The Drum Major Instinct
7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19 at the Student Health Center auditorium
“A Voteless People is a Hopeless People” Voter’s registration drive
10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20 at the SIUC Student Art Gallery
Leading the Dream! USG Youth Leadership Weekend
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Student Center
Pearl Enlightenment Dinner
4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 Event is invitational only. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org