“Now, 50 years after Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, I wonder, have we yet realized the dream?” said Angela Franklin, president of Des Moines University, at the 37th annual Big 12 Conference on Black Student Government.

Franklin said even though there are accomplishments that Martin Luther King would be proud of, there are still negative aspects of society that persist.

“So, have we realized the dream? Not yet, but there is hope,” said Franklin. 

Last weekend, the Scheman Building and Memorial Union were filled with conference participants dressed to impress. Groups of students and faculty moved from session to session, catching up with each other on the way.

The conference held more than 60 sessions, all using a different perspective to discuss leadership in the African-American community.

Sgt. Maj. Marvin L. Dixon was invited to present a session with two fellow Marines. Dixon also took the conference as an opportunity to learn from the other presenters. 

“The reason why we’re here is diversity. In the Marine Corps, we struggle with diversity. This is the prime opportunity to look for diversity and give these young men and women the information and opportunity to possibly serve in the military also,” said Dixon.

Along with Dixon’s presentation about the Marines, there was a presentation called “Why I Don’t Hire Black People.” The presenters discussed why some companies are hesitant to hire people of color.

A team of ISU students and faculty advisors ran the conference this year. The students on the committee have been working hard for the past year to plan a successful conference with elements unique to Iowa State, said Sylvester Gaskin, program coordinator of multicultural student affairs.

One of the events unique to Iowa State was the student-run fashion show put on at the end of the conference. The fashion show showcased student designs and hip-hop fashion through the decades.

James Adams, sophomore at Kansas State University, came to the conference with about 20 other students from his school.

“I came here to meet new people, not just companies but also making new friends," said Adams. "There’s a lot of opportunities with big conferences, I’m excited to get the chance to see how other student unions and organizations operate.”

The Big 12 Conference gives students the chance to meet new students they can relate to, network with businesses and learn more about themselves.

“Even though I’m 47, I can always learn something new,” said Dixon.

The conference gave people the opportunity to discuss the issues within the African-American community and issues that the African-American community faces. 

“This weekend is all about empowerment, how we’re going to eliminate all of the excuses we make up for ourselves and actually going out and doing something," said Dixon. "Empower yourself to lead yourself and do something for the community.”

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