Marshall observes MLK


Ryan Fischer

President Gilbert speaks at the MLK Jr. Observance Day event, Monday January 18.

Marshall University’s Office of Intercultural Affairs and the Huntington-Cabell Branch of the NAACP hosted a student march and celebration ceremony Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Maurice Cooley, associate vice president of Intercultural Affairs led the student march from the Memorial Student Center before the celebration in lieu of the community walk that was cancelled due to inclement weather.

Cooley said students insisted on marching.

Cooley read excerpts from King’s “Letters from Birmingham Jail” before the march.

Marshall student RaShad Sanders led a prayer before the march, a tradition of most civil rights marches.

Cooley led the group through campus at 5 p.m., and Marshall President, Jerry Gilbert marched alongside the group. The march was Gilbert’s first as the official president.

The observance and celebration took place at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center and featured several speakers, prayers and performances.

Cooley welcomed the audience and introduced the prayer leaders, Rabbi Jean Elington of B’nai Shalom Congregation, Ibrahim Mohammed, a Marshall junior and Darius Booker, a Marshall health care management and public relations major.

Gilbert shared his views on the holiday, King and Marshall


“We give thanks today and all days for his life and legacy,” Gilbert said.

“In my mind, Dr. King was about integrity, respect and perseverance,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert said as a Southerner during the 60s, he also learned from King. “We must continue the fight.”

Gilbert said since he has been at Marshall University, he has learned the importance of the word “we.” Gilbert referenced Marshall’s motto, “We are Marshall.” “There is love, hope and spirit embedded in the phrase,” Gilbert said.

Sylvia Ridgeway, the president of the Huntington-Cabell branch of the NAACP and Derek Rankin, the president of the youth council of the branch also spoke about the legacy of King.

There were performances by the Marshall University Chamber Choir, De’Asia Hill, the Rainbow Music Ministry of Young Chapel AME and Majesty Hill.

Reverend Kary Williams of Young Chapel AME ended the celebration by singing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” and blessing the observance.

Marshall student, Eric Williams, attended the event to honor the life and legacy of King, noting that, he was proud to be “honoring one of the greatest civil rights leaders in the black community and the world.”

Sage Shavers can be contacted at [email protected].