In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, the Student Life Activities & Planning (SLAP) Board and Office of Multicultural Affairs at Raritan Valley Community College hosted the 4th annual MLK Read-In Jan. 22.
The MLK Read-In is part of Global Citizen’s “National King Day of Service.” The event featured students and faculty singing playing music and reading essays and creative pieces.
Mary Margeret Rose, Olivia Anthony and Rachel Jones, members of the Students of the Women’s Center, took turns reading verses from “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou. While one of them read, the other two performed poetic gestures.
“I have always loved Maya Angelou since I was in high school,” Rose said. “Since she’s a black woman from that period, the students of the Women’s Center figured it was very important to bring a woman’s voice into this reading.”
Alaysha M. Walker, Assistant Director of Student Life and Advisor of SLAP Board, sang “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” with a video depicting social justice accompanying her. Walker said that the song is popular in African American churches and the message of the song is to have hope and faith because God watches over his people.
RVCC alumni Daniela Acharon spoke about the importance of Dr. King’s legacy to all races. She said her achievements would not be possible without the work of Dr. King because of her gender and morena skin. “Dr. King’s Dream was and is for all. For us to be able to vibe with each other, requires us to get past the skin color.”
Walker also emphasized the importance of Dr. King’s legacy to all groups of people. “If you notice, the participants were from diverse backgrounds. Dr. King didn’t just fight for African Americans, although we as a people led that civil rights movement. He gave everyone in America an opportunity to be part of this great nation. I want to make sure that students understand what it means to live that dream, to have equal rights, to have hope and faith and make an impact in the world, whether it’s in their own home or on a global basis like Dr. King.”
Richeleen Dashield, Dean of Multicultural Affairs, said that it’s important for students to realize the power of voting. “Voting is one of those things that really makes a difference in your community in terms of your elected officials and individuals who can support the values of our country and the humanity and legacy of Dr. King.”
SLAP Board and the Office of Multicultural Affairs will host another event to celebrate the Voting Rights Act of 1965, “Young Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement,” on Feb. 12, 1:00-2:20 p.m. in the Conference Center. The event will feature live music, video and narration from Key Arts Production to tell stories from the Civil Rights movement. Walker said the use of multimedia is so students can engage, visually see and feel the spirit of the movement.
Featured Image by Ben Auletta.