Students across campus celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Activities and events included esteemed speakers, rallies, and dialogues surrounding the issues of race and diversity within campus and larger society.
Alpha Phi Alpha
MLK with fellow Alpha Phi Alpha members.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, of which Dr. King was a member, held a tribute to MLK titled “From Slavery to #BlackLivesMatter.” As the room filled with guests, students showcased poetry, music, and dances that related the personal and cultural struggles of diversity and what it means to be black in America. The keynote speaker was HBO’s Def Jam Poet, Black Ice. Black Ice’s poetry has won Emmy and Tony Awards while also landing him on the FBI’s “no fly list.” He humbly shared his poetry while ruminating on his frustrations with the hip-hop industry, awkward encounters with LL Cool J, and struggles with being a father.
The event also featured an exhibit of historical artifacts that included programs for when Dr. King spoke in Michigan and correspondences he had with President John F. Kennedy.
Senior Antoinette Hemby has attended this event for the past two years. “It’s always inspiring how this event brings student talent to life. I absolutely love poetry and anything with artistic expression. This fraternity has done the best job of bringing student talent together on this very special day.”
The Michigan Daily
On Monday, the Michigan Daily also launched a new segment of their Michigan in Color editorial section: Amplify. Amplify’s mission is to honor MLK by creating a platform specifically for black contributors to share their stories. Editors said “we feel that intentionally and specifically lifting up black voices is urgent. These voices and these stories are what this campus and this country need to hear.”
Prison Creative Arts Project
Another student organization, the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP), hosted a panel to discuss LGBTQ issues in prisons and the criminal justice system as a whole. Abby Taskier, senior and member of PCAP holds a panel every year on MLK Day to highlight the lack of justice they find in the prison system. Taskier said “so much of MLK’s rhetoric fundamentally grew out of what is just and what is not just.”
This certainly is true as Dr. King himself has said that “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
The keynote speaker of the MLK Symposium, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, is an advocate for transgender rights and prison reform.
What did you do to commemorate MLK?