Tribute inspires students to live ‘hate free’
By Caroline Goins
|Photo by Brynn Palmer
Keynote speaker Dr. Mark Vickers, left, speaks with Quinn Davis, president of the African American Student Organization, and Yetunde Akindahunsi, president of the African Student Organization, after the tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jan. 17.
Students stood up to end hate in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at a candlelight vigil, tribute and workshop on Jan 17.
More than 50 participants marched by candlelight from the UC to the Mary Livermore Library at 7 p.m.
The marchers were silent and reflective as they crossed campus. People joined the march along the way, increasing the crowd by the time it reached the library.
“It is important to have a memorial to celebrate his accomplishments of bringing cultures and generations together,” said student Brittney Burt. “Today we benefit from his marches: we can walk in class and see a white person seated beside a black person.”
Dr. Tom Corti, assistant vice-chancellor for Student Development, told the audience gathered at the library that education is the key to eliminate discrimination.
Dr. Corti said he respects Dr. King so much for his passion towards education.
|Photo by Brynn Palmer
Life coach and promotional speaker Dr. Mark Vickers addresses students Jan. 17 at the tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Vickers also spoke at the workshop “True Leaders Don’t Hate” earlier that day, in conjunction with the MLK Jr. tribute.
Dr. Corti quoted Dr. King as saying, “I don’t ever want you to forget that there are millions of God’s children who will not and cannot get a good education, and I don’t want you feeling that you are better than they are. For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be.”
The Multicultural Council of Presidents helped sponsor the Dr. King memorial and told the audience what Dr. King means to them.
COP supports the cause
The Council of Presidents is made up of the presidents of the organizations supported and advised by the Office of Multicultural and Minority Affairs.
“We gather here today on behalf of the magnificent accomplishments and in remembrance of Martin Luther King. He inspired us to create our own dreams and combined our spirit and aspired us to greatness,” Yetunde Akindahunsi, president of the African Student Organization, said. “I hope every one of you have taken his example to make this world a better place.”
“In order to do the things we want to do, we must do the things we have to do first,” said Quinn Davis, president of African American Student Organization.
Davis added that Dr. King wanted fairness for all those who were oppressed. He said that marches, sit-ins and non-violent protests were necessary to bring along the Civil Rights Acts, and that even today we have things we must do.
His goal, through AASO, is to insure the voice still stays strong, not just for African Americans, but for everyone, he said.
Aubrey Swett, director of the Center for Leadership and Service, introduced guest speaker, Dr. Mark Vickers.
Never give up
Swett said never give up on the childlike ideal dream world. Acts of kindness will help to bring that world close, one act at a time, he said, echoing a message Dr. Vickers focused on earlier in the day during the “True Leaders Don’t Hate” workshop.
“Everyone sees color; it’s a fact of life. It also is the beauty of life. Starting today, instead of saying “there is a black man,” we should say “there is a man,” student Ebony Terry said.
“The challenge is for us to embrace our differences and work together, combining our strengths, because together we can diminish hate and build a great nation for our children,” Terry said.
Stand against hate
Certified professional life coach, mentor and transformational speaker, Dr. Vickers opened his speech by holding up the front page of a local newspaper.
He said it is a proud time in Robeson County history when one can remember 50 years ago when this community stood up against the Ku Klux Klan.
Dr. Vickers praised the community for sending such a powerful message against racism and hate, and leaving such a strong legacy behind to build on.
Dr. Vickers asked the attentive audience to think of how many people have been murdered, brutalized, terrorized and taunted, their lives ruined by hate.
The FBI reported that there were 7,722 hate crimes last year. A seemingly low number, Dr. Vickers said, because the numbers are not accurate.
According to Dr. Vickers, studies show that 200,000 plus hate crimes will happen next year.
“If it had not been for hate crimes even in the last 50 years, our society may now be enjoying cures to some of the worst diseases, solutions to the energy crisis, and the greatest mysteries of
life could have already been answered, had those millions of people been allowed to live out their full potential,” he said.
Only when we truly accept individuals for who they are will we truly bring Dr. King’s dream alive, he said.
Dr. Vickers said he hopes instead of “we’ll one day live in a nation that will not judge them on the color of their skin but on the content of their character,” Dr. King would agree with him that the dream is now “we’ll one day live in a nation where people will not be judged by anything.”
There is no place in society for the judgments that we all carry, he said. “There is a spark in you that is connecting with that spark in Dr. Luther King…. I am telling you here, turn that spark into action.”
“Don’t be afraid to make a stand. You are the people that are going to make the change… I’m putting it in your hands to make a difference,” he said.
Quoting Gandhi, Dr. Vickers said, “You will never know what result will come from your actions, but if you make no actions you will get no result.”
Wristbands were given out as a symbolic gesture to remember “to go from a world of hate to a world that is free of hate; all it takes is a little action” he said.
Robert L. Canida, II, director of the Office of Multicultural and Minority Affairs, ended the tribute by restating, “Be the change you want to see in the world” a quote from Gandhi, and reminding students that “without taking action nothing will change.”
Administrative Support Associate of Housing Services Marni Highsmith and student Preston “PJ” Siler sang, enticing students from their work cubbies on the second floor balconies in the library to listen.
Dr. Vickers spoke with students for 30 minutes after the event sharing stories and answering questions.
In conjunction with the MLK tribute, the interactive workshop “True Leaders Don’t Hate” was presented earlier by Dr. Vickers at 3 p.m. in the UC Annex.
Swett said he hopes to bring awareness through this program by getting people to focus on themselves rather than others.
The program focused on two questions: what is hate and what can individuals do to eliminate hate?
Excerpts from the multi-award winning documentary “Journey to a Hate Free Millennium” showed the various ways people are discriminated against. News breaking headlines were used to illustrate the points.
The father of the first student slain in the Columbine High School massacre spoke of his daughter Rachael’s life.
The family of James Byrd, Jr., an African-American man in Texas, spoke of the brutality of his murder; the mother of Matthew Shephard, a gay college student in Wyoming, read the letter she read in court about the love for her son.
The video moved some spectators to tears, while others looked shocked at the amount of hatred depicted.
After the video clips, volunteers joined in an activity. Five words were given and the students put the words in order. Students determined the order of the words by cause and effect, stating ignorance leads to fear, which in turn leads to anger, then hate and ends in suffering.
“The workshop opened my eyes. The key is to educate people and, of course, communicate with one another because you will find they are more alike than different,” said student Jeanetta L. Dunn.
“Everyone at some point has been discriminated against because of gender, race socio-economic background, religious political views, etc,” said student Nora Tyndall. “The important thing is that we talk and listen to each other about the issue because our generation is the one to create change.”
Swett said personal growth can be maximized by how students overcome differences and interact.
About 30 people participated in the workshop, including area middle school students.
The Center for Leadership and Service, the Office of Multicultural and Minority Affairs and the Office of Student Life sponsored the events.