Remembering ‘The Dream’
Vigil commemorates King’s life, work
Audrey Dighans | copy editor
“Only in the darkness can you see the stars” – Martin Luther King Jr.
In the darkness of the U-club, students weren’t seeing stars, but candles during a candlelight vigil for Martin Luther King Jr. on Tuesday, Jan. 21.
The vigil was sponsored by Pitt State’s Black Student Association (BSA), with about 20 members and 10 additional students and staff in attendance.
Choir music was played before the start of the event, reinventing the feeling of sitting in church awaiting one of Dr. King’s sermons. After a brief welcome by BSA President Kimberlee Fields, two members of BSA presented a slideshow detailing King’s childhood, struggles with religion, education, acceptance of faith and civil rights work.
“The presentation was great,” said Maria Thompson, assistant director of the student diversity office and adviser of BSA.
In the presentation, a strong emphasis was placed on King’s education and his faults. King’s teachers and professors often remarked on his brightness as a pupil but lack of determination. King struggled to accept his father’s strong religious beliefs until a Bible class his junior year of college. By his senior year, King had decided to enter the ministry, though he still participated in young antics, such as drinking and spending much of his time with female classmates.
“He wasn’t perfect,” said Fluffy Pratt, freshman in psychology, after the presentation. “It makes him relatable to all of us.”
Following the presentation, Pratt and her fellow presenter, Theo Hines, junior in illustration, asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of King’s life. Candles were lit and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was played during the silence.
Fields then asked audience members to come to the stage to express their take on King’s message, life and their feelings of what MLK Day means to them. Four students and one professor, Neil Snow, professor of biology, who talked briefly of his memories of the day of King’s assassination, took the microphone.
“I see him as a father figure,” said Archellus Ponds, senior in mechanical engineering. “He made people think things will be OK. He was that tangible source of faith and hope.”
Hines also shared his feelings on MLK Day.
“Growing up as a person of mixed race, I wasn’t proud of being black,” he said. “Not until one day when my mom sat me down and had me listen to King’s speeches. It gave me a sense of empowerment, and now I am very proud of my ethnicity.”
Pratt says that King’s work on civil rights was and is extremely important, but there is still more to do.
“We owe a lot to Dr. King,” Pratt said. “We owe a lot to everyone who speaks up for civil rights, past, present and future.”
Ponds remarked on many of King’s quotes mentioned in the slideshow.
“One of my favorites by Dr. King is, ‘Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase,’” he said. “It’s up to you to take the steps.”