Students, staff, and the Pittsburg community were invited to join the second annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Vigil on Jan. 17. The event was hosted by the Office of Student Diversity and was helped by King’s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha.
“Tonight is our second annual Dr. Martin Luther King JR. Vigil and it’s just an opportunity for us to come together as a campus and commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,” said Deatrea Rose, assistant vice president for student life and senior diversity officer. “We’re going to have a student do a reading from when Dr. King was in the Birmingham Jail and we’re going to sing the African American National Anthem. Then we’re going to ask people in the audience if they want to share a few words of what Martin Luther King’s dream meant to them.”
Jourdan Bridgette, junior in graphic communications, read part of King’s thoughts during his time in the Birmingham jail.
“His letter (contains) what he states and what his protests mean to him, his philosophies when it comes down to nonviolent protests and going the nonviolent route,” said Bridgette.
Along with the Office of Student Diversity, Alpha Phi Alpha also joined the vigil.
“He stood for everything that our fraternity stood for: leadership, servanthood, giving back to the community, bringing people together,” said Michael Rose, an Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brother. “He carried out his mission in the core of our fraternity so for us to continue to do what we do, supporting however to keep his dream alive.”
The event was hosted to commemorate all that King did but also to bring attention to what the day itself means.
“I hope they realize that today just wasn’t a day off to sleep in or do whatever you wanted to,” Deatrea said. “It’s a day of service, a day where you can go volunteer, whether that’s doing a canned food drive, collecting hats and gloves for those in need, whatever that may be. Whatever that service looks to you, find something to do that’s going to help someone else.”
Along with continuing the day of service, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is also to keep King’s legacy alive.
“I think the goal for today is to never forget,” Michael said. “Never forget where we came from. Never forget what he stood for. Even though he was about trying to get equal rights to African Americans, he was about all people, that we get equal justice for all people, equality for all people. We never want to forget that, because the moment we forget, we’re soon to return (to the past). So that’s why I think it’s so important for us to never forget where we came from.”
Along with keeping the day about helping others and keeping King’s legacy alive, the day is also to show support for the community.
“I want the Pittsburg State students to know to come together and know that we all love each other no matter who you are,” Bridgette said. “We can be here for one another no matter what color, creed, or religion that you are. And know that no matter where you’re standing or stance is in life, I can be for you, you can be my brother or sister no matter what you may consider yourself. I want the Pitt State students to know that no matter what, hardships or not, that I just want to be equal as anybody else in the United States.”
The Office of Student Diversity is open to those who may be interested.
“The Office of Student Diversity is a wonderful place to be at,” Bridgette said. “I absolutely love anybody who steps foot in there. I feel like whenever students come in there, we always accept students with open arms and we want those people to know that you matter to us no matter who you are, where you come from, where you are at in your walk of life. I feel like our office also brings a lot of joy to people on campus. It allows people to talk to one another about issues on diversity and inclusion in the United States. And just allow people to gain an understanding of each other.”