By Chanel Stitt
Jazz music was filtering through the student center on Jan. 12 as the WCC Jazz Combo Band performed at the beginning of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.
Many people filled the seats to watch the program hosted by Morgan Foreman, a WCC alumni.
The main speaker of the event was WCC history professor and band member Thornton Perkins, who spoke about the timeline of events that happened during the time of Dr. King’s life.
“I was watching Barack Obama’s farewell speech Tuesday, and one very important thing that occured to me is how beautiful our democracy is,” said Perkins. “It reminded me of how fortunate we are to live in a democracy that places the rule of law above the rule of men.”
He explained that last year they went over change and how hard change is, integration, segregation, the sit-ins, and the freedom rides.
Perkins asked the audience what two areas in society did the civil rights act cover. Many people paused and slowly, hands rose to answer the question. The audience came up with public accommodations and employment. These two still take place today, including the signs in employment offices that read “we are an equal opportunity employer.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that citizens should take the non-violent approach to fight for equality and justice.
Rachel Barsch, student activities supervisor, organized the event which is important to her.
“When you think about leaders of a legacy, who is more instrumental than Dr. Martin Luther King?” said Barsch.
“He didn’t just speak on equality, he spoke on love, justice and public policy. He affects so many and I think that’s rare.”
WCC Student Officer Julia Selig wrote her own version of Dr. King’s famous speech, “I have a dream” and read it to the audience alongside of three other student officers. The speech had emphasis on how society is still holding this dream.
“I feel that social justice is very important, especially with what’s going on right now,” said Selig. “I wanted to add something that wouldn’t put you down. There’s so much sadness out there. I wanted something that said we will keep going, we will keep working on this.”
Mohammed Said, one of the student officers shared how he was able to relate to the speech written by Selig.
“What we said in the speech were personal experiences and things that are happening today,” said Said. “It was something that made you think.”
According to Barsch, WCC is in the process of hiring a dean of diversity and inclusion to give support to those who need it. This is to help fill in the gaps that have been taking place over time.
“Drilling down what the minority groups on this campus really need and that person is going to focus on that,” said Barsch. “I can’t wait because I think we’ll have more retention and completion.”