Emporia’s 12th Avenue was busier than usual Monday evening. Shortly after 5 p.m., Emporia State students, faculty and staff, as well as Emporia community members, joined together to march in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Members of the group carried signs with phrases like, “Let Freedom Ring!” and pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.
Andy Hall, Emporia State alum, said the most beneficial aspect of the day’s events was learning about the Civil Rights movement and how they conducted their marches.
“It’s almost like following in their footsteps,” Hall said.
Despite the cold weather, the spirits of the marchers were not hindered, and the air was filled with the steady sound of hymns. Jason Brooks, director of Multicultural Affairs, said the march has been an annual event for more than 20 years, and they plan to keep doing it.
Brooks said it is important for ESU to be “proactive instead of retroactive and that ESU focuses on civil rights.”
“The further we get away from the 50s and 60s, we get more away from civil rights,” Brooks said.
A local group called the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Committee hosted the march, which proceeded from Plumb Hall to St. James Missionary Baptist Church, as well the community dinner that took place at St. James before its 7 p.m. service.
The Multicultural Club at ESU also contributed by hosting the children’s celebration that took place Monday morning, with help from children’s group facilitator Jacqueline Corbett, who led the children in hymns before the service, and Rev. Delmar White, who came from Lawrence to speak at the service.
Tayler Wash, junior secondary education major and member of the Black Student Union, volunteered and attended the event for her third year.
“(The most beneficial part was) probably the children being able to get active in the community and carry on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.,” Wash said.
Multicultural Affairs will host a Deferred Action Forum at 7 p.m. tonight in the Memorial Union to promote the education of students and faculty in regard to undocumented students.