Students honor MLK Day with a candlelight vigil

Members of the Marshall University community gathered on campus Tuesday night to hold a candlelight vigil in celebration of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

This event was sponsored by Marshall’s Student Government Association and the Student Affairs office. Both wanted an event to help commemorate and to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and the progress he made for so many people.

“I think the further we get through history and away from the time that he lived, people can forget everything he stood for, especially with everything that is going on with our country, how divided we are,” Matt James, assistant dean of Student Affairs, said. “Whether it is politically, how divided we are among race, religion, everything you could imagine, we need to hear more about peace and love. Our commonalities far outweigh our differences and I think it is important for us to be reminded of that.”

The vigil included an introduction, followed by a reading of the “I Have a Dream” speech, which was presented by different members of the Marshall community, the singing of “Amazing Grace” and a few words spoken by SGA President Matt Jarvis and Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert.

“My favorite part was the rereading of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech by different types of people,” sophomore accounting major Derek Rankin said. “Usually, every time it is reread it is always by an African American male. This really reached out to the different types of demographics, because the speech not only affected us, me as a black man, but it affected everyone as a whole and as a nation.”

As the sun went down, candles were lit and the audience listened to the words of the “I Have a Dream” speech that were spoken 54 years before.

“We preach diversity and inclusion. It shows that we do appreciate every single different type of culture. Whether it be today, where we held the Martin Luther King vigil, or yesterday with the program that Intercultural Affairs put on, or even when we celebrate Saudi Arabia Day, it shows that Marshall really does care about us. They value us as students,” Rankin said.

“Civil rights is not an era, it’s not something we just read in a history book, it’s an ongoing thing,” SGA President Matt Jarvis said. “It is something we have to practice in our daily lives and I think now we can hopefully see a change on campus, then the Huntington community, then the state, with a flow of love and solidarity.”

Alexis Leach can be contacted at [email protected]