MLK Commemoration week celebrates Dr. King’s work


By Dinanda Pramesti, Lifestyle Editor

The Office of Diversity of Inclusion and Multicultural Education (ODIME) organized a week-long event to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of justice and inclusivity.

Martin Luther King Jr. 2018 Commemoration week started on Jan. 20, where they honored Dr. King’s legacy by participating in Mason’s MLK Day of Service at Women Giving Back (WGB) in Sterling, VA. WGB’s mission is to support women and children in crisis, while also building their confidence and self-esteem by providing free clothing.

On Monday, Jan. 22, ODIME hosted the Unify and Amplify Silent Listening Party. According to Mason’s MLK Day website, “music has long since been a tool of unity and amplifying the voices of marginalized cultures.” This is why “Unify + Amplify” is the theme for this year’s commemoration. On this day, they listened to “songs and music that have moved the culture from then until now, Silent Disco style.”

According to ODIME Assistant Director to Programming Dr. Michelle Allen, “This commemoration is something that the office has done for years, I just started in September, but from my understanding, this has been a long-standing thing that our office has spearheaded. What we try to emphasize is that this program is a campus wide event.”

“What we did was [bringing] all this campus constituents together to plan the event. So, people helping with this event would be like SAIL, the Honors College, Student Government, Parking and Transportation, all of University Life, and all of these offices come together. We’ve been planning this commemoration since the middle or beginning of October.”

This year, ODIME wanted to do five or six events to concentrate the effort of driving home the message of Dr. King.

“The theme is ‘Unify + Amplify: We Must Speak’ to get people to understand that Dr. King worked with a lot of different constituency groups to speak towards equity and purity and social justice.” She then added the ‘We Must Speak’ means that “we must speak up and resist against structures of racism, sexism, classism, and so on,” Allen said.

According to an email from intercultural communication professor Mark Hopson, the keynote speaker for the Evening of Reflection on Jan. 24 was Kevin Powell. Powell is one of the most acclaimed political, cultural, literary, and hip hop voices in America today. He has written 12 books including a memoir about his life.

Along with his extensive and prolific published works, he also travels nationally and internationally speaking at colleges, corporations, and various institutions.

“The Evening of Reflection [event] is primarily an opportunity for us to reward the acts and legacy of Dr. King by honoring the spirit of King on this campus. We give out awards this year to student organizations, alumni, faculty, staff, and give out one award for someone who is an upperclassman and one award to someone who may be a Freshman or Sophomore,” Allen said.

The Evening of Reflection also honored awards for student organizations that have done outstanding service projects.

During the evening, Kevin Powell spoke with vigor about social justice, how we must speak against oppression, and support those who have been oppressed.

“We would be hypocrites to sit here and celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King and talk about justice, freedom, and equality and not talk about all forms of oppression, all forms of discrimination, all forms of hatred, not just what is convenient for you.”

The evening was filled with education about forms of oppression and how we must progress towards a just and equal society by uplifting and supporting one another.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Thompson