MLK observance on campus makes impact

The founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence 236 years ago proclaiming the “unalienable rights” of all men.

President Abraham Lincoln spoke the “Gettysburg Address” and pronounced all slaves free 150 years ago.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream,” speech 50 years ago. It called America to judge others by their character and not the color of their skin and gave the civil rights movement a true hero.

The university hosted a Martin Luther King Jr. Observance in the Lord Conference Center Jan. 21. The Department of Social Work, Sociology and Criminal Justice sponsored it.

“We thought this is something that we would like to see done,” Assistant social work Professor Dr. Annete Franklin said. “Everybody knows about ‘I have a dream’ speech. He talked about all of us getting along and all of us prospering together and Christian love. Being a Christian university, I think that it’s very fitting that we take time out to do this observance.”

After a video of the famous speech, University President Dr. Randy O’Rear welcomed those in attendance and gave a brief commemoration to principles upheld by King that the college now follows.

“Dr. King was a man of such great courage and such great and outstanding values and great faith,” O’Rear said. “He shared so many things that are at the core of what we believe in here at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.”

Following an invocation and some announcements, the Mount Zion United Methodist Church Choir led the audience in the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and later “We Shall Overcome,” to close the ceremony.

Keynote speaker Rev. Roscoe Harrison of Eighth Street Baptist Church of Temple and former assistant editor for Jet magazine talked about the ideas that King voiced in his call for more equality.

“Wave upon wave of immigrants have come to America to build a new life, drawn by the promise of freedom and fair chance and whatever else they found,.Even (through) bigotry and bias, most of them have never given up on America,” Harrison said. “Even African Americans, the first of whom were brought here in chains, never gave up on America. It is up to us to prove that their abiding faith was well placed.”

Harrison also encouraged the audience to live out and continue to seek the equality that the “I Have a Dream” speech points toward.

For many, it not only exemplifies King’s dream, but also the nation’s founding principles.

“It is a time for each of us to look within our own hearts in our own communities,” Harrison said. “Let us put our shoulder to the wheel to root out injustice and inequality wherever it exists.”

Finally, he urged students to  continue moving toward equality in the future.

“Let us move forward into this new horizon, this new century and give Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream new meaning,” he said. “After all, it’s just the American dream.”

Author: Seth Stephens

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