Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.: Students march, celebrate the 25th national holiday

JOSHUA MAASSEN / The Journal During “Dream Week” members of the Webster University community honor Dr. Martin Luther King day in a March on Webster Jan. 17, 2010. Leaders of the march periodically stopped around campus to recite selected speeches of Dr. King.

By Ashley Westbrook and Tiffany Woods

Students celebrated Martin Luther King Day on Webster University’s campus by marching and reading the famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
The March on Webster was part of Dream Week, a series of events sponsored by MCISA and organized by WebsterLEADS.  Dream Week commemorated the 25th Dr. Martin Luther King Day.
Bernard (Bernie) Hayes, a professor at Webster University, concluded Dream Week’s March on Webster with an inspirational speech concerning topics that Dr. Martin Luther King fought for.
“The most important thing is for us to stay alive,” Hayes said. “We must embrace the hope and dreams that Dr. King had. You must choose lifestyles that will keep you alive.”
Dream Week acknowledged King’s hard work, highlighted the power behind marching and featured one of his many influential speeches. Reflections on King and Hayes’ interpretation of him and his dream inspired attendee Kemi Olaswere.
“[Hayes’ speech] motivated me to believe in myself, that I can be who I am, and encourage the next person to be who they are and who they can be,” said Olaswere, a sophomore early childhood education major.
Hayes also reflected on King’s influence during the civil rights movement.
“I knew Dr. Martin Luther King, Dick Gregory, Jessie Jackson and did my share of marching,” Hayes said. “I would also direct the listening public to their events while working for the radio.”
The idea for this event was created during the Advanced Leadership Retreat, which included various student groups.
Frank Hartfield Jr., a senior speech communications major, attended the Advanced Leadership Retreat and was positive with the response that the March on Webster received.
“The overall energy and the word of Bernie Hayes pulled everything together,” said Hartfield. “It’s quality over quantity and I hope this keeps going on.”
When asked about how King would feel about society and government today, Hayes said he believes King would be overjoyed about President Barack Obama.
“But, I believe he would be disappointed with the violence and the political rhetoric,” Hayes said. “He would be concerned with the stabbing and murder rate along with the horrible treatment of women in rap music.”
Laura Beth Eschbacher, a junior media communications and German double major, was on the service project planning committee and would like to see Dream Week participation grow in the future.
“Next time we could have more word of mouth and advertisements,” Eschbacher said. “Have people wear shirts throughout the week to promote more.”
After the march and discussion with Hayes, volunteers participated in a day of service.  Participants created take-away meals for St. Patrick’s Center, an organization that provides meals to the homeless and those at risk to become homeless.
Sandwiches, trail-mix, cookies and apples were put together by students and dropped off at St. Patrick’s to be served the next day.
The service event was part of a national campaign to make Martin Luther King Day a “day on, not a day off.”
“Think of it as a Webster Works Worldwide, only national,” said Lauren Meyer, WebsterLEADS graduate assistant to leadership and learning. “I hope this is something that stays with Webster, not just a day to sleep in.  We’re all willing to get out of bed and have it be a day on for years and years to come.”
Webster traditionally holds events to commemorate Martin Luther King Day, but this is the first year the campus has participated with the national day of service.
“Our hope is that the campus would be excited about the project…students have given their day off to come and do something for others,” said Nikki Femmer, assistant director of MCISA. “Students worked over the break to get this done.  For them to care this much about the project was a huge surprise.”
“Walking around and hearing the speech was a good way to frame the day, remember why we’re here,” said Kirstin Kahaloa, assistant director of MCISA. “It’s a reminder.”
Thursday will conclude Dream Week with a panel discussion titled “Keeping the Dream Alive: What Can Webster Do?”  The event will be held at 6 p.m. in Sunnen Lounge.

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