MLK celebration to focus on student involvement

President Floyd will speak for the first time at this year’s MLK Community Celebration event.

By Kaitlin Gillespie

The Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration will be held in the Compton Union Building Junior Ballroom Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m.

According to mlkday.gov, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was first celebrated as a national holiday in 1986 and is recognized as a national day of community service.

Faculty jazz quartet Nighthawk, student choir God’s Harmony will perform and President Elson S. Floyd will speak at the event.

“We have chosen a speaker for the last three years who comes from within our community,” said Felicia Gaskins, associate vice president for the Division of Student Affairs, Equity and Diversity. “Dr. Floyd has spoken at other MLK celebrations around the state. We thought it was time to invite him to speak here at the university.” Diversity Education Program specialist Laura Appel said part of this year’s celebration focuses on active student involvement. Several students will be recognized for their community service, and speakers will be introduced by students.

“The students are taking a more active role in the entire celebration,” Appel said.

The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) will be hosting a “Day On, Not a Day Off” event featuring several community service opportunities, including a trip to Orphan Acres and food sorting for the Community Action Center food bank.

Tiffanie Braun, community partnerships coordinator for the CCE, said MLK Day is among four service days. The other three are 9/11, Make a Difference Day and Earth Day.

“This is a day that when the U.S. wanted to make MLK’s birthday a national holiday. His family was the one that wanted to honor his legacy by making it a day of service, a day where you go out and connect with your community,” she said.

Several community members will be honored at the celebration with the Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award for their leadership and active participation in diversity-related projects in Pullman, Appel said. The winners are professor of education Paula Price, Diversity Education Director Jeff Guillory, human development major Autumn Jones, speech and hearing sciences major Khadra Haro and the Association of Pacific and Asian Women, she said.

Gaskins said the event is important for the people to remember the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr., and should be recognized.

“Civil rights benefit all of us in the country,” she said. “We hope that each year students will join in the celebration with faculty and staff and community members, a celebration that’s going on around the country.”

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The Daily Evergreen is Washington State University's student-run newspaper.
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