TERRE HAUTE —
Voices merged inside the hall as a civil rights legend was remembered Friday evening.
Tables full of participants rose to join in singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” that evening near the onset of Indiana State University’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Dinner. Hosted by the university’s Charles E. Brown African American Cultural Center, the event dominated Hulman Memorial Student Union’s Dede I.
King was born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta and rose to prominence as one of the preeminent leaders of the 20th century civil rights movement. In addition to his work in passing voter reform prohibiting discrimination at the polls, he is also remembered for the famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tenn., he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established a federal holiday in the U.S. in 1986.
Master of ceremonies James Officer said that within King’s body of work there is an implied message that the “dream” happens one person at a time.
A 1992 graduate of ISU’s aerospace program, and a 1995 graduate of its master’s program in public affairs, he credited his years at the university as some of his happiest.
“I have so many incredible memories of Indiana State University,” he said, advising students to make the most of the “best years of their lives.”
Dr. Carmen Tillery, vice president for student affairs, said King’s message is one of peace, love and justice, fitting for ISU, “where learning is personal and diversity is a way of life.”
In her invocation, the Rev. Joanie Clark of the United Ministries in Higher Education, invoked words from a psalm, “may the work I’ve done speak for me.”
King’s work, she said, speaks volumes for his life, and that work is not a foundation of rest, but a place from which to launch toward further progress.
Invoking King’s words while fighting segregation in Birmingham, Ala., she said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” pointing out that enough injustice exists at present for all to continue the work.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or email@example.com.