By Bonnie Paresa
The heat on Tuesday did not stop students from coming out to celebrate the life and efforts of Martin Luther King Jr. Students gathered at the campus Rose Garden for the annual silent march to commemorate King.
The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Iota Psi chapter on campus organized the event. The chapter is celebrating their fortieth anniversary on campus this year.
King, a known leader and activist in the African American Civil Rights Movement who was assassinated in 1968, was also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha.
“We are here to commemorate our brother Martin Luther King Jr. and give service to him today,” said Adam Mitchell, a fourth-year graphic design student. “This is important to us because, not only was he part of our fraternity, but this pays homage to his legacy and everything that he did for the community.”
Dressed in suits, members of Alpha Phi Alpha led the way with a yellow banner picturing King, as participants silently formed a line behind them to follow.
The march started at the Rose Garden, passing by Engineering Meadow and ultimately arriving at the pancake stairs in the central area of campus.
“The march lets people reflect back on things we have either overcome or the different challenges that we have faced,” said Mitchell. “It offers a moment of silence.”
While marching, there were multiple stops, as excerpts were read out loud to participants. Members of the fraternity recited excerpts of King’s speeches that promoted love, education and equality for people of all races. The march began with the “Love Your Enemies” speech by Dr. King in 1957, read by Mitchell.
Iota Psi chapter President Keshad Adeniyi, a fifth-year political science student, was also present at the march.
“The speeches that were chosen were tailored to our own personal beliefs and things that we love about Dr. Martin Luther King,” said Adeniyi. “They are words that everyone can identify with.”
According to Adeniyi, the march is unique to the Iota Psi chapter, as other chapters do not have an annual march like this one.
Many students showed up for the event and it was promoted on social media outlets such as Instagram.
Lauren-Michelle Hardge, a fourth-year gender, ethnicity and multicultural studies student, attended the event.
“I think it’s important to support Dr. King and his ideals in his terms of equality and his dream,” said Hardge. “I feel like I should be present.”
The march ended at the pancakes where, across from them, is a memorial plaque for King which was presented to the campus by the Black Student Union over 20 years ago.
Multiple fraternity and sorority members also stood in silence at the pancakes to pay homage to King. Alpha Phi Alpha provided yellow roses, one of their fraternity colors, to participants to place on the plaque.
Zaneta Agu, a second-year kinesiology student, attended the march this year for the first time.
“He helped us get to where we are at right now,” said Agu. “At one point we weren’t even allowed to all be together. He has helped people come together to share a unified goal. Now we are all here getting our education.”
To conclude the event, students were invited to attend the Black Student Union meeting.
For more information or how to join, visit the African American Student Center, or attend a meeting. Meetings are held every other Tuesday at U-Hour from 12-1 p.m., in Building 6, room 227.
Campus will be closed on Monday to commemorate King and his accomplishments in civil rights.
Andrea Rocco/The Poly Post
Homage for a hero
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