Valparaiso University (VU) had the chance to honor the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King on Monday as students, faculty and the community gathered for the university's 31st annual MLK day celebration.
Gathered in the Chapel of Resurrection and ready to honor everything Dr. King stood for, attendees were treated to keynote speakers, music, and some very powerful words.
“To be engaged on a day like today lets us recommit to the conversation of change,” said Byron Martin, Executive Director of Intercultural Engagement & International Engagement. “We want to drive home the fact that there is work to be done. We want people to leave here today and say, okay now I plan to do something.”
Martin wants a celebration like this to be a message to everyone else that it's not just the world that needs help, it is our own communities where we need to help fight and make the change.
“It seems like people reproduce work not central to where we are,” Martin said. “ It seems like today, it's very appealing to go overseas and do work. We have to admit there is work for us to do here and we want to inspire everyone to fight for that change.”
The keynote speaker of the convocation was Imani Perry, African American Studies Professor at Princeton University. She was happy to be there honoring the legacy of Dr. King, knowing there is a lot to gain for everyone.
“I think there is a lot to be said about being open to studying and learning one another,” Perry said. “Never underestimate the small things, even those go a long way towards making the difference and you never know what kind of impact it has on someone's life.”
Those who worked so hard to plan the event were happy to see it all come together and were ecstatic that there was such a big turnout. The staff and speakers know that events like this can go a long way towards a better community.
“I think that this is something needed for our community, it is a great way to show everyone what VU is all about,” said Deb Garbukas, Administrative Assistant at VU. “We want to show that we are part of the community and everyone is always welcome. It is great to see everyone come together and witness a moment like this.”
For Perry, her one big inspiration and hope is that the world becomes a better place. The biggest impact on her life comes from those she meets along the way.
“I am constantly inspired by young people,” Perry said. “It is part of the reason why I dedicate my life to speaking to people, knowing it helps make them want to have an impact on the world.”