Southern hosts celebration to honor Martin Luther King Jr.
Jene Thomas – General Assignment Reporter
She had the hair. She had the voice. She had the story of the man who had the dream. Portraying Coretta Scott King, the professional monologist Tiffany Young walked onto the stage and performed a monologue depicting a story of the reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I know if anyone could make a difference in this mean world, it was my Martin,” Young said as Coretta Scott King. “Martin’s purpose was to find justice in a world of the unjust.”
The drama piece was a part of Southern Connecticut State University’s annual MLK Day. “Going Beyond the Dream” was hosted by the SCSU Multicultural Center in the Adanti Student Center on Feb. 4, coincidentally on fellow civil rights activist Rosa Park’s Birthday, after being rescheduled from its original Jan. 28 date.
Following a roar of applause, keynote speaker Pastor James A. Lane, Jr walked onto the stage and grazed upon the crowd, admiring how many students came.
“As I look out across the room,” he said, “I realized that I’m older than a lot of folks in here but I’m not older than some of you in here.”
After asking what the meaning was in celebrating Dr. King, he said it was important to wake up from the dream. Remembering him as the man who gave the “I have a dream” speech limited his legacy. The focus of his sermon shifted toward the importance of taking action, by way of non- violent protest, as Dr. King had during the Civil Rights Movement.
People would march on Selma, Al. to protest the lack of voting rights African Americans had. There were boycotts of buses in Montgomery. People would protest by sitting in “whites only” sections of restaurants in Birmingham. Lane remembered taking a tour to find those who participated in the Freedom Riders Movement.
The desegregation campaigns didn’t always work though, because of adults, according to Lane.
“Adults sometimes can’t get the job done so they decided to use children.”
More than 4000 of children and young adults were arrested in the attempt to fight for equal rights, as depicted in the movie, “Selma.” He brought up current issues, such as the Michael Brown and Eric Gardner cases, where young people were marching to raise awareness of police brutality.
Though attempts were made to change the world, Lane said that the process was not easy. People today ask for justice in an unjust system.
“You won’t find a chicken laying a duck egg,” he said. “If you do, that’s a revolutionary chicken.”
The rest of the celebration featured historical videos and slide shows of Dr. and Mrs. King, songs and dance performances.
Dressed in completely black with a white painted face, SCSU alumna Kaiesha Johnson, 25, performed an interpretive mime dance to the gospel song “Never Would’ve Made It,” in honor of Dr. King. Johnson is no stranger to performing for social justice causes.
“I usually perform during these celebrations,” she said. She has been dancing since the age of six and does not plan on stopping anytime time soon.
The Multicultural Center has invited the Southern community to some of the events in honor of Black History Month. There will be a two showings of “Selma” on Feb. 23, at 5 and 8 p.m. in the ballroom.
Dian Brown-Albert, Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs announced that there would be non-violence training sessions for those interested in the movement on Mar. 6 and 7.
“I would encourage us to get up and I would encourage us to stand up,” Lane said. “I would encourage folks to speak up, I would encourage people to look up and I certainly would encourage people to try to catch up and when we start doing that we will change things all around us no matter where you might be.”
Photo Credit: The COM Library