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LSU honors Martin Luther King Jr. with commemorative celebration

"I have a dream." From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered those four powerful words to a crowd of more than 200,000 people who had gathered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963. Nearly 50 years after that famous speech was given and almost 35 years after his assassination, King's words continue to inspire the generations that followed.


Almost 35 years after his assassination, the LSU community will celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. with the annual MLK and Black History Month Commemorative Celebration with events from Monday, Jan. 21, through Thursday, Jan. 24.


On Monday, Jan. 21, members of the LSU community will be participating in the MLK Day of Service at McKinley High School, co-sponsored by the MLK Commemorative Celebration and the LSU Community University Partnership.

As the nation honors the memory of the famed civil rights leader, members of the LSU community celebrate his life and reflect on the way he has touched their lives with the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration to help fulfill King's dream that all Americans live up to their potential and make this nation a better place.

"Dr. King's legacy represents a man's struggle to bring unity and harmony to a broken nation," said Chenice Samuel, MLK Commemorative Celebration team leader for MLK Performing Arts Night. "His legacy bears witness that change is possible if you continue to press on in your endeavors."

On Oct. 19, 1983, the United States Senate voted to establish a national holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr., which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Nov. 2, 1983. Three years later, in 1986, the nation officially celebrated the first Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Since 1994, when the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday and Service Act was signed into law, the third Monday of January has also been identified as a national day of community service. However, the holiday was not officially observed in all 50 states until 2000 when Utah became the last state to officially recognize the holiday.

In the spirit of the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday and Service Act, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration will kick off at 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, when members of the university community depart the LSU Student Union for the "Day of Service," co-sponsored by the LSU Community University Partnership. LSU students, faculty, staff and administrators will converge on McKinley High School, 800 East McKinley Street, to assist with the revitalization efforts including cleaning and painting. Participants will be afforded a hands-on opportunity to aid the local community and promote volunteerism, one of King's fundamental principles.

Following the "Day of Service," a candlelight vigil and march, sponsored by National Pan-Hellenic Council, will be held to observe Martin Luther King Day. The candlelight vigil will begin at 5 p.m. with a short program at the Memorial Tower, and the march will proceed to the Broussard Atrium for a short reception. The program will be held in the spirit of King and the Civil Rights marches of the 1960s to remember those who marched for freedom and the eradication of the ills of society.

"I chose to participate in the MLK Commemorative Celebration and Black History Month to honor the efforts of those before me that made my path a lot less problematic," said Kristian Black, MLK Commemorative Celebration team leader for the MLK Day of Service.

On Wednesday, Jan. 23, the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee and the Black History Month Committee will host author, scholar and social commentator Michael Eric Dyson for the keynote address at the MLK Commemorative Celebration. Dyson's address is free and open to the public and will take place beginning at 6 p.m. at the LSU Union Theater.

A professor of sociology at Georgetown University and the author of more than a dozen books, Dyson has been an American Book Award recipient, two-time NAACP Image Award winner and is considered to be one of the nation's most influential public intellectuals.


The LSU community will be afforded a hands-on opportunity to revitalize the local Baton Rouge community and promote volunteerism, one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s fundamental principles.


Following the MLK Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 21, the National Pan-Hellenic Council is sponsoring a candlelight vigil and march in the spirit of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights marches of the 1960s.

The MLK and Black History Month Commemorative Celebration concludes on Thursday, Jan. 24, with the MLK Performing Arts Night. One of the most anticipated events of the MLK Celebration, Performing Arts Night will be held in the LSU Union Theater beginning at 6 p.m. King's enduring legacy has long been associated with his means of creative expression as an orator, a reverend, and a civil rights activist. The MLK Performing Arts Night, which is free and open to the public, will allow LSU students to celebrate the life and legacy of King through poetry, dance, and musical expression.

"Seeing the passion and commitment of our student leaders as they develop the series of programs for the entire LSU campus community is both inspiring and a true testament of this generation's desire to make their own mark in history and to create a memorable campus experience for all students to enjoy," said LaKeitha Poole, Black History Month Committee adviser.

The 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month Commemorative Celebration is coordinated by the LSU Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee and the Black History Month Committee. For more information contact the LSU Office of Multicultural Affairs at 225-578-4339, or visit www.lsu.edu/oma.

As part of the Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month Commemorative Celebration Commemorative Celebration, members of the LSU community have reflected on the legacy of King, what that legacy means to them and why it is important to continue to celebrate that legacy:

Kristian Black, Team Leader, MLK Day of Service

What does Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy mean to you?
"Dr. King's legacy means a lot to me, more so along the lines of the growth of our people throughout the years in the face of adversity; from the slave ships to the White House."

How has Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy affected you personally?
"Dr. King directly affected race relations and made it possible for me and someone of European decent to go to the same school and receive identical education. This is one small example of the things that people take for granted but wasn't offered for my grandmother or her forefathers."

Why is it important to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy with the annual Day of Service and Black History Month?
"It is important to celebrate Dr. King's legacy and Black History Month in order to preserve the history of black people, as well as the strides we have made to be called 'equals.'"

Why is it important for LSU and the university community to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.?
"Is it important for LSU to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King to exemplify what struggle and perseverance can do for a nation. Geaux Tigers."

Chenice Samuel, Co-Team Leader, MLK Performing Arts Night

How has Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy affected you personally?
"I don't have a tragic story of unprecedented racism to tell nor have I ever fallen victim to any prejudice crime. It is because of this that I feel blessed to live in a time where thoughts and feelings are changing. I live in a generation that embraces diversity and looks for change, and, in my opinion, it was the legacy that Dr. King left and that of many others like him that opened the gateway to this change."


Starting at the Memorial Tower at 5 p.m., the candlelight vigil and march will honor those who marched for freedom and equality during the Civil Rights era.

Why did you choose to participate in the MLK Commemorative Celebration and Black History Month?
"The MLK Commemorative Celebration and the Black History Month committees are comprised of a unique group of students who not only want to honor a great leader, but who would like to promote the morals and values that he represents. I think any group that is committed to expressing good, strong moral beliefs is one worth joining."

Why is it important to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy with the annual Day of Service and Black History Month?
"Dr. King was a servant-leader who believed in doing everything it takes to bring about change. He and many other great leaders like him put in the time and hard work needed to make a difference. What better way to honor Dr. King and all of the phenomenal, strong black leaders than with a Day of Service and the Black History Month celebration."


On Wednesday, Jan. 23, the MLK and Black History Month Committees will host author, scholar and social commentator Michael Eric Dyson for the keynote address at the MLK Commemorative Celebration in the LSU Student Union Theater at 6 p.m.

Why is it important for LSU and the university community to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.?
"I think it's important for LSU and the community in general to honor Dr. King's legacy because Dr. King did not only fight so that African-Americans can have equal rights, he fought so that the division that man placed on race would one day be destroyed and lead to one race – the human race. Dr. King's legacy represents the uniting of all races."

LaKeitha Poole, Black History Month Committee Adviser

What does Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy mean to you?
"The legacy of Dr. King is a representation of all of the forefathers and foremothers of the civil rights movement. Many of my generation's parents and grandparents were children and young adults during that era. To reflect upon the fact that Dr. King made the ultimate sacrifice of giving his life so that those who would later benefit from that sacrifice would experience a different type of world is, in some ways, overwhelming, yet is always inspirational. He is the voice of an entire generation, inspiring our ancestors to fight for what they believed in so that one day we (all human beings) wouldn't have to."

How has Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy affected you personally?
"The legacy of Dr. King has been very influential in my life. His mission to seek equality and peace among all individuals is the driving force behind the work that I do here at LSU and in my personal life. His life has invoked a desire in me to be an advocate for those that cannot always advocate for themselves and serves as an example of the passion that one must have when working to bring about sustainable, societal change."

Why is it important to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy with the annual Day of Service and Black History Month?
"The annual MLK Day of Service and Black History Month Celebration is a time of unification and remembrance. Each celebration represents our commitment, both as individuals and as a campus community, to honoring and upholding the legacies of some of the most astounding individuals that history has ever known and our hope to create great legacies of our own."

Why is it important for LSU and the university community to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.?
"With diversity at the forefront of LSU's current Flagship Agenda, it makes sense for the university community to highlight such a significant figure in American history and to honor his great legacy, and that of many others. The MLK and Black History Month Celebrations allow the entire campus community to come together and share in one of the most memorable times of the year."