MLK Events Explore the History of Civil Rights

Nathan Crites-Herren
The Paw Print

The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life is one that should be celebrated and understood by every citizen of the world.  Every year, the acts of King filed away in the vaults of history become further from our collective memory. It becomes necessary to bring his essence back to life so his selfless acts may be transmitted through all of us.

Creating the proper environment for the remembrance of King, ASU’s Black Student Union (BSU) held events honoring the life and struggle of King. Along with a booth of information about the larger Civil Rights struggle and important African-American leaders, BSU also held interactive workshops/presentations, on issues of race and bias along with guest speakers and a movie documentary.

Throughout the week of event programing during the 22 of January through the 25 of January, BSU focused not only on the more basic facts about King but also examined the larger Civil Rights movement that King was involved in.

Many Americans remember King as a fighter for Civil Rights, but his scope was quite larger.   The information presented at BSU’s daily booth in front of the cafeteria painted King as a man not only struggling for racial equality but also for a larger political and social platform that included anti-war and economic justice sentiments.

Expounding on King and the larger social movements of the 1960’s, BSU sponsored guest speaker Charles Payne, who is currently the Chief Education Officer for Chicago Public Schools and was previously the Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, spoke in the Richardson Hall auditorium.

With a lengthy background in the American Civil Right struggle and African–American activism, Payne spoke on the nuts and bolts of grassroots organizing and made clear the fact that the all the great things we saw King do were not solely done by him.

“The Civil Rights struggle started with regular people, just as Dr. King was a regular person,” said Payne.

Payne also iterated that leaders in such grand movements should not be unnecessarily put on a pedestal.

“The Interrupters,” a video documenting violence in the inner-city of Chicago and those who stand up to that violence in order to stop it, explored issues of race and class in a white dominated culture.  The video was shown on Tuesday night in the McDaniel Building.

Megan Smith, President of BSU, was happy with the documentary video, which BSU co-sponsored with Sacred Heart Church and the Unitarian Universalists of Alamosa. However, she felt that the video portrayed all of Chicago in a negative manner.

Smith, a native of Chicago, knows the areas of the city where the documentary was filmed. “’The Interrupters’ doesn’t represent Chicago as a whole, it focuses only on the two worst neighborhoods in Chicago. Not all of Chicago is so violent,” said Smith.

A particular hit during the Martin Luther King Jr. week was the BSU t-shirts commemorating the week, which sold out. “This is the first time we have sold-out of all our t-shirts, we still have t-shirts of past MLK events from two years ago,” commented Smith. is powered by WordPress µ | Spam prevention powered by Akismet