Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service
By Will Patterson
*Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org, President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On January 19, the University of Missouri—St. Louis held a day of service in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There was a ceremony in the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center. There was also a day of community service around the area. For service, students were allowed to sign up for one of over a dozen service sites in the St. Louis area. That day, 252 participants completed 782 hours of community service at the 13 job sites around St. Louis. Some of the sites included Beyond Housing, O’Fallon Park Recreation Complex, Children’s Home Society, Circle of Light, and St. Vincent Greenway.
Ashlee Roberts, assistant director of Student Life, said, “Dr. King Day is a nationally recognized day of service.” ‘A Day on, Not a Day off’ as she puts it. “We strive to look for sites that need projects done and are in need of volunteers. We provide the necessary materials to do the service. It’s done as a way to give thanks for the services they provide to the community.”
First students checked-in at the Millennium Student Center for a light breakfast and to get into their groups before departing to their service sites. For approximately four hours students, faculty, and alumni raked, painted, cleaned, and more at their service sites. Around noon, students returned to the MSC for pizza and an ending ceremony. Jason Summers, graduate, higher education, described his experience during community service at Beyond Housing in Pagedale, “It’s very appropriate to take remembrance of Dr. King Day by going into the community doing service. We painted a few walls and doors around the building to keep them up to date with building code.”
The theme for this year’s Dr. King celebration was “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The event was hosted by local KMOV news anchor Andre Hepkins. The Touhill Performance started at 10 a.m. and consisted of musical performances by Chris and Kyle with True Spirit. The guest speaker was Harvard professor Lani Guiner. The UMSL theater department also gave a performance in tribute to Maya Angelou. Along with the ceremony, two MLK scholarships were given to UMSL students. To have been in the running, students must have had at least a cumulative 2.5 GPA and have had been active in the community. They also had to write an essay based on Dr. King’s Nobel Peace Prize speech. The winners were Cynthia Ford, senior, media studies, and Dan Mueller, freshman, criminology. They read their winning essays at the end of the ceremony.
According to Deborah Burris, director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and chief diversity officer, the event was, “absolutely a success. The Touhill was nearly filled to capacity with 1200-1400 people in attendance. There was also a children’s program hosted by Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society in Education consisting of arts and crafts in which 132 children were in attendance.” The children’s program was for children from ages five to eleven.
Burris said that the event was to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King. “Though we have come a long way since then, we still have work to do,” Burris said.
(c) The Current 2015