Community honors MLK

Alpha Phi Alpha brothers pose for pictures while carrying a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The brothers prepared to lead a candle lit procession from the Pennington Student Activity Center to the ballroom on the third floor of the Student Union. The night ended with the different speakers and presenters calling those in attendance to fight for equality of all people.
Nathaniel Callaway/The Lion's Roar 

Last Wednesday, Jan. 18, members of the Kappa Nu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the Office of Multicultural and International Student Affairs held the annual remembrance to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The event began with a candlelight processional beginning at the Pennington Student Activity Center leading all the way to the third floor of the Student Union. Fraternity brothers from across the state as well as student, faculty and members of the community attended the event, with the line at one point stretching the entire length of Louisiana Hall. All the while they chanted “united we stand, divided we fall,” holding candles and led by brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha holding a portrait of King.

Throughout the night, different participants showed their respect of and inspiration by King. They read poems, gave speeches and sang songs in his honor, proving that he is as important now as he ever was. Students from all walks of life came out that night for many different reasons.

“For me personally, my grandparents were around his time and they actually were working for the school system in Jefferson Parish,” said Claraion Hill, a sophomore early education major. “He wasn’t allowed to put his name on anything because he was an African-American teacher. And so, it means a lot that I get to do all the things I can do now because of what they did.”

The speaker for the night was Brandon Lewis. Lewis is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha in Baton Rouge. He is also a local folk artist, has served as a regional chairman for the Miss Black and Gold Pageant and recently fulfilled the lead role in August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson.” During his speech, he also shared what King meant to his own generation.

“There was a cry for a leader, in this age of history called for a modern day Moses,” said Lewis. “Before King’s, there were many Moseses. Numerous men and women who began the fight for equality, those who took up the baton of justice in search of a finish line. Their works of literature meant to uplift the souls of this century.”

Lewis went on to talk about how much King should mean to this present generation.

“This generation, which is still reaping from the harvest of their labor,” said Lewis, “I am very fortunate to have been raised by a parental unit which consisted of several people who were adults during this time in history. King’s legacy is more than the “I have a dream” speech. It is more than the march on Selma. It is more than the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The biggest part of his legacy is the amount of hope he gave the people. You see when you have some hope in your heart you can move mountains.”    

These philosophies and ideals were echoed throughout the night.

“There is a little tree planted on a little hill and on that tree hangs the most influential character that ever came in this world.” The opening video said, with audio of King’s speech, “But never feel that that tree is a meaningless drama that took place on the stages of history. Oh no, it is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity and see the love of God breaking forth into time.”