Iowa State, community celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kaleb Warnock

Iowa State is collaborating with the Ames community to help celebrate the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr. with numerous events throughout January.

There will be a celebration at 4 p.m. Thursday in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union that will feature live music from Iowa State’s own Shy of a Dozen, guest speakers from GSB and the Black Student Alliance and, of course, birthday cake.

Iowa State kicked off this year’s celebration Wednesday with a carillon concert on Central Campus. The celebration was to continue Monday evening at Ames Middle School, but was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

However, there will be several other events, including a lecture by Gloria Gibson, executive vice president and provost of the University of Northern Iowa, at 8 p.m. Jan. 31. There will also be a lecture from political journalist and debate moderator Gwen Ifill March 31.

For most students, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day isn’t just a day off from classes. Many still appreciate the importance of the holiday.

“It’s a day of remembrance,” said Kelly Dean, senior in hotel, restaurant and institution management. “We need to memorialize him.”

King is one of the most influential civil rights activists in United States history. He was born and raised in the south and later earned his doctorate in theology from Boston University.

He was a revolutionary activist and effective leader because of his unique practice of nonviolent protest, which he learned through the example of Mahatma Gandhi while studying in India.

“He changed a lot of peoples’ lives and opened up their eyes,” said Stephany Gremmer, junior in hospitality management. “He was a really good speaker and did change the way we live … he should be honored for having the courage.”

King also helped organize the Birmingham Bus Boycott, numerous sit-ins, was chairman of the Freedom Ride committee, and led the famous March on Washington in 1963. He received many awards both during and after his life, notably the Nobel Peace Prize and earning the esteemed title of Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” in 1964.