Monday, Jan. 21 found Ferris State University students, faculty and staff active in several pursuits offered in tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., in a 33rd annual campus celebration of the slain civil rights leader.
Sub-zero temperatures greeted around 20 students who participated in a Day of Service activity organized by the Center for Leadership, Activities and Career Services. Students took shovels and salt onto paved areas near campus for Operation Safe Sidewalks.
The theme for the 25th annual faculty/staff in-service program was “Civility and Ethical Community.” The in-service features public readings in King’s honor.
The university’s long-standing commitment to educational opportunity for all was detailed in an early-afternoon presentation sponsored by the Diversity and Inclusion Office, titled “The Early African American Experience at Ferris: Beyond Hampton.”
More than 200 students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members participated in the annual Freedom March, which followed an abbreviated route, owing to late-afternoon temperatures in the mid-teens. In comments following the march, before the annual Student Tribute, Ferris President David Eisler told those gathered that the university’s founder, Woodbridge Ferris, wrote “Work Together,” a letter to the Ann Arbor Negro Year-Book, in 1918, that illustrated his commitment to unity and civility among all people.
The excerpt Eisler offered included, “The one regenerating power in the world is love. Love is not a racial factor. It is a universal factor, that makes for patriotism, that makes for democracy. This is the only influence that can save the world from race hatred, that can save a nation from disintegration.”
Byron Brooks, a senior transfer student from Detroit majoring in Music and Entertainment Business, was among the presenters in the annual MLK Student Tribute. Brooks has created a nonprofit organization called For the Hood, By the Hood to conduct sweater drives for homeless recipients, collecting water for Flint residents and other projects.
“I think it is important for student voices to be heard, especially on a day like the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday,” Brooks said. “What Dr. King did in his lifetime, what he died for, that is something that must always be remembered, and we should take it upon ourselves to make his legacy matter.”
Kaylee Rosa, a graduate student in the Social Work program from Traverse City, presented her poem, “One Day,” during the Student Tribute. Rosa described herself as “very passionate” about issues of social justice and poetry.
“I was inspired by a portion of an MLK speech, and my poem came to me rather quickly when I composed it last fall,” she said. “I am also inspired by my personal experiences and the messages that come my way through the media. I was honored to take part in the tribute.”
The university’s 33rd annual MLK celebration continues through Wednesday, Jan. 23,
with alumnus Khalid El-Hakim visiting campus with a selection of items from his Black
History 101 Mobile Museum. El-Hakim’s 6 p.m. speech “The Truth Hurts: Black History,
Honesty and Healing the Racial Divide” will be presented in the University Center
ballroom and is a five-star campus event.
PHOTO CAPTION: Kaylee Rosa, (center) a graduate student in Ferris State University’s Social Work program, meets with friends before the MLK Student Tribute on Monday, Jan. 21. The university will continue celebrations honoring the slain civil rights leader through Wednesday, Jan. 23.