The 25th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration took place on Jan. 16-17 in the Ragan Theatre to discuss the legacy of King with the purpose of uniting campus and community voices.
President of the Black Student Union, Stormey Nielsen, gave the opening remarks followed by a musical number by Luseane Pasa, student in the Black Student Union, which received a standing ovation. The keynote speakers included Brittany Packnett, Vice President of National Community Alliances for Teach For America and Co-Founder of Campaign Zero, and Elijah Miles, speaker and activist in Baltimore City. Workshops were facilitated by Miles, LaShawn Williams and the Orem City Police Department.
“These events remind students why they should resist the labels, stereotypes and deficit narratives that are placed upon them,” Darah Snow, director of Multicultural Student Services, said. “These events also help us as staff, faculty and administrators to remember why there is a significant need to continue furthering our efforts and investment in ensuring that students are adequately represented and have equitable access to resources that will help them to succeed.”
The event provided an opportunity for students and community members to come together and discover new ways to act. According to UVU’s designated MLK Commemoration website, the reason for this event is to create a space where voices can unite and remember the teachings and legacy of King.
“We must remember the segregation, we must celebrate that things are better now and we must never go back to such times,” said Thomas Mgonja, advisor for the Black Student Union. “I am happy UVU celebrates MLK Day. It means the culture and history of African-American people is honored here.”
“I am a multicultural student and Dr. King has been someone I have looked up to all my life, even though I am not from African-American descent,” said Mana Angilau, a finance junior. “For me to be able to support this, it means a lot and it is something that I can learn from. It inspires me to find new ways to act and give back to the community, to figure out how to make a difference here at UVU. So that is a big reason why I am here, to listen, to learn and to support something that I feel strongly about.”
Packnett reminded the audience that though we have come far since the days of King, we still have a long way to go. Packnett urged the audience to have a desire for continued change and not get comfortable with the way things are now.
“Be your MLK Monday self on a regular Tuesday.” Packnett said.
At the commemoration many students stood in applause to celebrate the speakers’ words as they were encouraged to make plans and take action towards change together.