18th annual MLK Commemoration added a movie night to its weekly events.
Tuesday’s free showing of the 2011 movie “The Help” drew over 100 students to the Grande Ballroom as part of last week’s 18th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration. From the bestselling novel of the same name, the film chronicles a racially charged writing project set in 1960s Mississippi. Event cosponsors from UVU’s library and UVUSA stood by serving snacks including cornbread, a quick bread popularized by its frequent appearances in the film.
Although “The Help” centers around tensions between black and white citizens, History Professor and Commemoration Coordinator William Cobb hoped students would see beyond the drama’s racial strains to the underlying issue of human rights.
“We want to address not just racial issues . . . we’re trying to tackle human rights. What does Martin Luther King’s message mean to students today?”
The annual event was called Human Rights Day when Cobb arrived on campus in 1994; however, he petitioned that the event be renamed after Martin Luther King, Jr. because of “everything the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech represented.”
Ben Reichert, a senior studying Community Health and UVUSA’s Multi-Cultural Chair, echoed Cobb’s sentiments, said, “We’re doing this to help teach students
about realism, segregation and poverty in the era of the ‘70s and ‘60s.”
Although the movie night fell short of its projected attendance of 300, Cobb anticipated Thursday’s Keynote Speaker, former national NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, to draw a crowd.
“It was pretty expensive to get him [Julian Bond] here, but the administration at this university has been very supportive in helping to advance students’ learning outside the classroom,” Cobb said.
In addition to the film screening, Commemoration activities included three days of student and faculty panels focusing on contemporary human rights issues.
Deven Leigh Ellis – Asst. Life Editor