Story by Valentina Garcia, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Aquinas College
On Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, many schools hold marches to honor his legacy. The cold did not stop Aquinas College from doing so for the fourth time. The MLK Social Justice March, which took place this year on Monday, January 18, was sponsored by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Residence Life, SAC, and Campus Ministry.
The annual march commenced under Latoya Booker’s leadership as director of the Center for Diversity & Inclusion. It is a Student Affairs signature event. This year, more than 60 participants marched to honor the legacy of King, who fought for equality not with violence but with love. The Aquinas community not only marched to honor King, but to remind everyone that there are still things to fight for today. Inequalities still exist and awareness was brought to some of the social justice issues that need our attention in order for the world to become a better place.
Stops throughout the march allowed for these social justice issues to be given attention. During each halt a student read about a different issue giving the marchers a moment to stop and think about present problems in the world.
The first issue, covered by Chucky Blackmore, a senior, was on refugees. This is an important topic right now, not just locally or nationally, but globally.
Simone Martens, a junior, covered voter restrictions, an issue that sparked comments during the march. It was new information to some marchers that restrictions are still held on voters. It is not uncommon to hear complaints about citizens not exercising their right to vote. The information showed that this is not the case. It is not true that the right to vote is not being exercised by choice; for some, there are no opportunities to exercise it due to restrictions.
The third stop was the most saddening to hear; it brought attention to police violence. A list of names of those killed by police violence was read by senior Amelia Kimbro. The list included people from all over the country and of different ages. A moment of silence was held after the list was read; it was the most silent moment in the march.
The fourth stop, covered by Elizabeth Sensing, a senior, brought attention to food deserts. These are areas that have no access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Unhealthy food is easily available in low-income neighborhoods, and this leads to an increase in health problems in the neighborhoods.
The march ended at the Donnelly Center with Mary Clark-Kaiser, Director of Campus Ministry. There participants listened to the last five minutes of King’s “I have a dream” speech and were lead in a closing prayer/reflection.
At the end of the march, a call to action was provided by Booker to support Flint by participating in a water collection sponsored by Student Senate on Friday, January 22.
The MLK Social Justice March was not the only thing done on campus to honor King’s legacy. That same day at 4:30 p.m. was the MLK, Jr. mass, where there were special prayers for interracial peace. There was also a blood drive that was sponsored by Service Learning.
The activities held on campus were not just opportunities to remember Martin Luther King, Jr’s legacy, but to participate in it. This could have been done by attending mass and praying for peace, saving lives by giving blood, or marching in the cold to focus on things that need to be changed. There were different ways to participate in King’s legacy, but all leading to the same result. Whichever activity was chosen, it provided an opportunity to bring awareness to things, the opposite of remaining silent.
About the Writer…
Valentina Garcia is a first year student who loves sunny days, Jane Austen, and preferred tea to coffee until she started college.