On Wednesday, January 15, Indiana University Northwest celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday with a musical performance featuring Voices of Love Choir themed “We Still Have a Dream.” The event took place in IUN’s Bergland Auditorium and was creatively crafted to capture the ambiance of the celebration through music.
The program opened with the message from Todd Deloney, an IUN Student and member of the Black Student Union, on “Why We Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.” In 1990 Deloney wore a sandwich board sign saying, “Do the Right Thing, Pay Tribute to Dr. King.” After collecting 2,500 signatures, the boycott resulted in the unanimous change of IUN’s policy and added the celebration of Dr. King birthday to the University’s calendar. In May of the following year Dr. King's birthday celebration was added to and acknowledged on all associated campuses.
The next event on the program was the Voices of Love Choir, directed by Patrice Mack coupled with a narration by Rev. Regan Robinson, Pastor of St. Timothy Church, Gary, IN. Sixty-eight of the eighty-six member choir performed various songs that had the audience jubilantly tapping, clapping and swaying with the beat. Accompanying the choir is a drummer, saxophone player, two keyboardists and a person who plays a rain stick.
A very demonstratively involved, enthusiastic and energetic Mack led the choir into a combination of spirituals and contemporary songs chosen because they illustrate the relevance of Dr. King’s message today. Robinson fused comments on the life of Dr. King with a spiritual dialogue connecting the vision. Robinson spoke of King as the mouthpiece and someone who was not afraid to fight for the people. He said “freedom is not free, we stand on the shoulders of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, because they said enough is enough and I chose to have a voice rather than remain voiceless, we can be free.”
Each narration produced a more intense song. The moment and the mood were somber, stern and awe-inspiring. The audience responded with applause, emotional expressions and affirmations. As the audience became intense and responsive, the more intense was the choir. Robinson spoke on the importance of unity and coming together, “when one joins, another joins, another and another.” He said if you don’t believe it just clap. What followed raised the decibel level in the auditorium. Voices performed the song “Clap of Praise.” First the row in the rear began to clap, and each row followed in succinct succession, clapping harmoniously to rhythmically jazzed music. The choir was cheering happily and loudly and the audience was responding in the same manner, making it appear as if the room was moving with the beat.
James Wallace, Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs for IUN was beaming with excitement as the program concluded. The event was a huge success he said unable to contain his approval and enthusiasm. Wallace explained that the performance was selected from a number of ideas submitted by organizations, community activist, stakeholders and students at IUN. Deloney was chosen because as a student he participated and successfully led others to change. This exhibited an example of the global movements that are occurring today. IUN’s desire is to get individuals from the community and the region involved in the University’s promotion of a student centered campus and the high quality programming that is offered. Refreshments and conversation ended the evening.