Every third Monday in January, Americans celebrate a man who had a dream. Martin Luther King Jr. protested and fought against racial discrimination; a battle that continues today.
“It’s really about if one person is marginalized, then we all are marginalized,” said Dean of Students Pamela Anthony. “I think there is always a need to look at diversity in all kinds of ways.”
Martin Luther King Jr.’s message against racial discrimination had an underlying perspective that relates to sexual orientation, religion and nationality today, said Anthony.
“I think [his message] makes it a more broader picture to look at,” Chrishelda Green, freshman in human sciences, said.
“The point is, Dr. King was about action,” said Anthony. “It’s not enough just to say ‘we are diverse’ or ‘we value diversity’.”
Some students have taken this course of action and proceeded to get involved in the planning process.
“Martin Luther King Jr., himself, was very influential in my life. His teachings, his doings and the main part [was] his actions, which is why I am volunteering,” Catum Whitfield, junior in agricultural engineering, said.
Green and Whitfield are members of the planning committee for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Convocation. The MLK Legacy Convocation will be at 4 p.m. Jan. 24 in the Memorial Union Sun Room.
“We really want to make it a little bit more serious. A convocation is a gathering of people who convene for a common purpose," Anthony said. “So when you think about that, we’re convening not just in celebration, but we’re saying, ‘this is important to us and this is what I’m going to do as a result of it.’”
The committee is driven to make the convocation something that lasts more than the week. Committee members want to make an impact on the community and see results within the student body.
“One of his more famous quotes is: ‘You don’t have to have a title to serve,’” Anthony said.
Although the program is already planned for this year, Anthony is taking volunteers to help serve and plan for the celebration in 2014.
The committee members help plan the events and get everything prepared for the big celebration. Members gather as a small group and work together to create something bigger. The community is also welcome to volunteer.
“I would love to see even small steps being taken, that when combined and once accumulated, it’s a big impact,” Green said. “If more people could be like that, then I think things could get a little bit better.”
Martin Luther King Jr. Day often brings an evaluation of society's racial issues, but Whitfield said on-campus race issues aren't a huge problem.
“Not really on a major scale, but of course there are issues going on everyday,” said Whitfield.
“Focus has shifted a little bit,” Green said.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s fight for equality affects the thoughts and actions of students today.
“We definitely want a lot of people there. A lot of people that are willing to listen, that want to see something happen. See some type of change. Be that change themselves,” Green said.
“I’m just looking forward to the students really championing the causes of Dr. King. I want to make sure that the students of Iowa State understand Dr. King’s mission,” Anthony said.