Martin Luther King day celebrated by NAU
BY DANI TAMCSIN —
A diverse group of civil rights supporters attended the 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day March at Northern Arizona University (NAU). The variety of the marchers demonstrated the reach of Dr. King’s impact on almost all social movements.
The event began at the University Union and ended in the du Bois Ballroom. Supporters of all ages, the youngest being only two years old, walked through campus to celebrate the life of King. The group could be heard around NAU, singing songs like “This Little Light of Mine” and “Wade in the Water.”
NAU’s Black Student Union (BSU) put on the march. BSU member Shay Hopper, a senior criminal justice major, attended the march for the third time.
“I just hope that the march and the event helps to unite the students and remind everyone how far we’ve come,” Shay said. “We want to celebrate Martin Luther King’s life but still keep working for civil rights.”
Although Martin Luther King Jr. is best known for his work toward equality for black Americans, many activists credit King’s accomplishments with opening the door for other social movements. Naomi Renard, a freshman English major, attended the march after hearing about it during the meeting of a feminist group on campus.
“I was in a FIERCE (Feminists Including Everyone Radicalizing Communities) meeting and heard about this march,” Renard said. “It’s really a celebration of all social movements that fight for equality.”
Italian exchange student Dario Mazzola served as a reminder of King’s influences on civil rights activists all over the world. A graduate political philosophy student, Mazzola drew inspiration from King’s non-violent methods.
“MLK is very famous in Italy and world-wide because he is an example of the non-violent approach to civil rights. I think, along with Gandhi, he is one of the most well-known personalities in social movements of the last century,” Mazzola said. “Martin Luther King showed us the right way to improve the rights of all and the wealth and health of society.”
In the du Bois Ballroom, several speakers and performers participated in the celebration. President John Haeger opened the event and discussed the importance of the day, not only in history, but also in the present. Monday was not only Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but it was also the second term inauguration day of America’s first black president, Barack Obama.
Pastor Gerald Richard, who attended marches both in Phoenix and Flagstaff on Jan. 21, also discussed the inauguration. He recalled one of his college professors telling Richard he would not see a black president “in his lifetime.” Richard spoke not only about how far America has come but how far future generations have to go.
Supporters read poems and gave musical performances in honor of King. Many of the speeches and poems were centered on the work yet to be done. Demitri Kelly, a junior psychology major, performed a poem expressing his desire for “true freedom.” Elevation, NAU’s a cappella group, performed two songs for the celebration, as did Flagstaff’s First Baptist Church.