Looking forward to Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018

speaker photo

Photo by Andrei Pop

by Sumayah Basal

Contributor

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Jan. 15, a holiday. The annual celebration at WCC is Jan. 11. Students have the opportunity to volunteer, serve their community and show solidarity for what WCC Dean Clarence Jennings Jr., called “a fundamental fight for the rights of everyone.”

The WCC event begins at 3:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Student Center. The MLK 2018: Stay Ready: Stay Woke reception will follow immediately. The event will open with music from WCC faculty jazz band. Morgan Foreman, a former WCC student, will return to serve as the event’s emcee.

Speakers will include:

  • WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca
  • WCC history teacher Thornton Perkins, who will be the keynote speaker
  • Jennings, dean of Students Access, Success, Equity, and Inclusion

Julia Selig and Heather Duval will perform Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic speech, “I Have A Dream.” There will also be a song performed by Christina Wallag, and a spoken word performance by Corzetta Tillman.

During the Civil Rights movement, college students played a role in furthering progress toward equality. They organized sit-ins, marches, voter registration drives and were an important component of the movement.

Today, protests are again common on college campuses where equal rights and diversity are involved.

From Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan, where students have protested racist flyers and graffiti and — most recently — UM’s decision to allow white supremacist Richard Spencer to rent a space on campus to speak, hundreds of students have taken action in Washtenaw County recently.

Jennings encourages students to be aware of what is going on in their community, to be active, to let their voices be heard. Students are invited to attend board meetings and student forums with WCC administrators, he said. These are places students can ensure their voices are heard.

The essence of MLK day is human and civil rights, Jennings said.

“Never stop focusing on the rights of everyone, it is no longer just about race, it’s about the rights of undocumented immigrants, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, refugees,” he said.

Many people think that race is no longer an issue, that we live in a colorblind society. “That’s not the case,” said Jennings.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said “Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of a true education.”

There’s information about the MLK Day of service at mlkday.gov, or find info on Twitter and Facebook, @MLKDay.

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