Hundreds Gather for MLK Freedom March on Ferris State University Campus

Ferris State University

PHOTO CAPTION: (Above) A group numbering in the hundreds participated in the 31st annual Freedom March Monday, Jan. 16, as part of the three-day Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on the Ferris State University campus. (Below) Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion David Pilgrim, left, and Executive Director of the Office of International Education Piram Prakasam, right, participate in the Freedom March.

Hundreds of Ferris State University students, faculty and staff were joined by members of the Big Rapids community for a Freedom March on Monday, Jan. 16, the first day of the university’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

Members of various athletics teams and student organizations were among those who participated in the annual march.

The prospect of mixed precipitation did not deter participants, who
Ferris State Universityembarked from the University Center along a route past the Timme Center for Student Services, the Ferris Library for Information, Technology and Education and the Arts and Sciences Commons, before returning to the University Center for the MLK Student Tribute.

Among those speaking to the audience gathered for the Freedom March was Ferris President David Eisler, who reminded the audience that, “Our founder, Woodbridge Ferris, was a great advocate for diversity and inclusion.”

Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion David Pilgrim echoed that concept, telling marchers that celebrated African-American educator and author Booker T. Washington visited the Ferris campus for a presentation, in 1902.

“Eight hundred people, from what was then Ferris Institute, and the surrounding communities, came to hear him speak,” Pilgrim said. “Eight years later, Ferris established an agreement with Hampton Normal School, a historically black institution. That accord produced leaders in many areas of American society in the years to come.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanine Ward-Roof asked participants to imagine the society they want to live in, before challenging them to serve as active agents of change.

“By working together, we can make the changes we want to see in the world,” Ward-Roof said. “This can be a reality brought about by every action you take, with every word that you say.”

Upcoming events on the MLK Celebration calendar include the “Tunnel of Oppression,” on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 17-18, in UC Room 116; “Politics Today, What Would MLK Think?,” a panel discussion on the 17th at 5 p.m. in UC Room 202B; and a five-star campus event with activist and commentator Bakari Sellers, speaking Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m., in the University Center Ballroom.

For more information, check the MLK Celebration homepage and the official news release on the celebration.