Iowa State celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.


The Bridges to Harmony performed during the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday Celebration on Thursday, Jan. 19, in the Great Hall in the Memorial Union. This event is celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King. 

Kiana Roppe

The Iowa State community literally rose to their feet in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Thursday at the Memorial Union. The songs from the Bridges to Harmony choir from Des Moines and Iowa State’s own Shy of a Dozen a capella group got audience members up on their feet, smiling and dancing.

Although fond remembrance of Dr. King and his influential work was encouraged, each of the speakers made it clear Dr. King’s work was not easy or simple, and his dream of equality is not yet finished.

“A lot of work remains to be done to realize Dr. King’s vision,” said Nana Osei-Kofi, assistant professor in educational leadership and policy studies.

Paris Tindrell, president of the Black Student Alliance, spoke of how Dr. King did not set out to be a celebrity. He did not wish to be remembered for his awards. Instead, he wanted people to listen to his words, see what his nonviolent and unwavering actions accomplished and continue to implement his dream.

“He wanted to be remembered as a drum major for his service,” Tindrell said.

Keynote speaker, Osei-Kofi, touched light on the fact that Dr. King was not only an advocate for African-American rights, he was an advocate for poverty as well. He took a stand for every issue that he saw and believed in.

Osei-Kofi encouraged students and members of the community to educate themselves on the issues of today including poverty, race and incarceration. Once educated, the challenge is to speak up for personal beliefs, especially when it is the hardest thing to do.

“There becomes a time where silence is betrayal,” Osei-Kofi said.

Derrick Rollins, chairman of Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Planning Committee, pointed out that there are two “enemies” of Dr. King’s dreams. The first is greed. He argued that greed is what causes many people to differ from what is right. Historically, greed is a factor in why plantation owners did not give their slaves freedom.

The second enemy was complacency. Rollins and other speakers said that citizens cannot sit back and be silent about the issues. In Dr. King’s time, many people believed in his message but were too scared to come forward and voice their opinions.

Osei-Kofi said that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped bring this country to a state of decency, not equality.

The 2012 Holiday Program wanted to remind audience members of Dr. King’s past and also challenge them to speak up and continue the fight toward true equality.

“I encourage you to find your voice and figure out what you too, will say,” said John Taylor, diversity and equity coordinator at Iowa State.