Time is Now for MLK


Jason Hartley plays the guitar while Jareen Hardin leads the Community Choir at the 2018 Community Celebration and Musical Tribute to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Photo by Maria Do.

Natalie Spahn

On the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. students and citizens of the quad cities gathered in Centennial Hall to celebrate his life and messages on Saturday, January 13.
The celebration kicked off with a performance by the Metropolitan Youth Program Drill Team. The kids danced and drummed to fire up the audience and get them ready for the night. It worked. As the kids danced their way out, they were met with a loud standing ovation. Then the Director of Multicultural Student Life, Michael Rogers, introduction the MC for the evening, Dr. Kit Ford.
Ford talked about why it is important to has celebrations like this. “The life and legacy of Dr. King, [is] important historically, but also gives us nuggets of wisdom to encourage us to really… walk humbly, doing justice, and love mercy.”
“This is a celebration, but then it also reminds us of the reality of injustice in the world – and that there’s still more work to do. So, [the event] is kind of like a call to action,” Ford said.
The night was filled with music from the Community Choir, directed that night by choir member Jereen Hardin. There was also spoken word poetry from Isaiah Williams. He performed his piece Melanin for the audience and received many snaps of approval from the audience throughout the piece.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Chandra Gill the CEO and Founder of Blackademically Speaking, preached a message of teaching our children.
“There’s an old quote that says: people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I think that every teacher can care, and if we can care about all people – in respect of color, background, socioeconomic status – I believe that teachers can teach again and in the fullness of what teaching means,” Gill said.
A video presentation of The Journey to Selma, an Augustana student trip from last year, was to be shown, but the video malfunctioned. Even though the video aspect didn’t work, the audience still enjoyed hearing the voices of the student’s on the trip, and their thoughts and reactions. The audience also heard the voice of Dr. King. An audio clip of some of his final words from his speech Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution was played.
Vanessa Dominguez, a junior, works for the Office of Multicultural Student Life and helped with setup for the event. Even though she has been attending this event since her freshman year, she felt that she learned something new coming by going that night.
She said, “It’s always really hard to learn about this kind of history in class, and the history that is taught is so washed out. I think when I come to these events I learn to just keep moving forward. I think as a student who is trying to pay attention to these things and be conscious of them , it can be very draining at times, so you need to be in environments like this that lift you up.”
Dominguez felt empowered after listening to Gill speak. Most of the audience members were Quad City community members, so she encourages Augustana students to go next year.