On Wednesday, November 4th, students gathered on the HUB’s monumental staircase to celebrate the 75 day countdown to Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration week, an annual event to celebrate King’s legacy through instilling passion for diversity, evoking servant leadership and fostering social activism.
The “Great Reveal” of this year’s theme and keynote speaker took place at 1:18 on-the-dot beginning with a student-lead demonstration and moment of silence ordered to showcase the names and faces of individuals of various genders, races, and sexual orientations who unjustly lost their lives.
Following the moment of silence, Executive Director Jael Charles, announced this year’s commemoration theme: Keep Moving Forward with the social media hashtag #TakeTheNextStep. Charles urged students to get involved in service projects and to take advantage of the various opportunities to give back to the community.
Estella Obi-Tabot (Senior, Biobehavioral Health), credited her previous involvement in Penn State’s day of service as igniting her passion for engaging with the community. Beginning as a student volunteer during her freshman year and team leader during her sophomore and junior year, Obi-Tabot now serves as the Director of Day of Service events. When asked what she was looking forward to most Obi-Tabot replied, “I would love to see a lot of different faces involved in service. I feel like it’s very important to not get that stigma that it’s just for some people, but for people of all backgrounds. We’re really trying to promote diversity.”
The key announcement of the day included the indication that Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, will be the distinguished speaker in January. The crowd quickly responded with an applause and students noted their excitement to hear wise words from Fulton. “The fact that her son was murdered unjustly and the fact that she’s still out here doing work for social justice causes…the fact that she’s coming out to do that gives me more respect for her and her family,” said Rabiyatu Jalloh (Sophomore, Education and Public Policy and African-American studies).
Following the initial reveal, the Gamma Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, an NPHC fraternity in which Martin Luther King. Jr, was a prominent brother, continued the celebration with a step performance. Various music filled the HUB for the remainder of the event.
Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration week will begin on January 18, 2016. The week of celebration will include a day of service, community showcase, a Social Justice Reception and much more. Be sure to follow @PSU_2016MLK to keep up with the latest MLK Jr. Celebration news.