The celebration begins: The Wright State community celebrates MLK Day with a week of festivities
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This week, as Wright State’s Bolinga Black Cultural Resources Center celebrates the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., it also celebrates its 43rd year as part of WSU’s campus.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a social activist and Baptist minister who fought for equality during the Civil Rights movement. King traveled around the United States giving lectures on civil rights and nonviolent protest. In addition to these, he is famous for his “I have a dream” speech. King was fatally wounded when he was shot in Memphis in 1968.
Director of WSU’s Bolinga Center Dana Patterson said that part of the reason WSU celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. all week long is that the Bolinga Center was created on MLK Day in 1971.
“For that reason, we really take Dr. King’s message to heart,” said Patterson. “For us, what people usually think of as a day off is a day on.”
MLK celebrations kicked off on Monday, Jan. 20 with the citywide Martin Luther King Day march in Dayton. The march began at 10 a.m. at the Charles R. Drew Health Center on W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The marchers continued on Third St., stopping at the Dayton Cultural and RTA Transit Center and Sinclair Community College to add to the group. The group then turned right on N. Main St. to Fifth St. where the event concluded.
WSU mass communication major CaTia Brown attended the march on Monday for the first time. “Martin Luther King made a big difference,” Brown said. “Even though he has passed away, we want to show him that we remember what he did.”
The Bolinga Center began its own series of events on Tuesday, with “Building the Beloved Community,” an open discussion with the staff of the Bolinga Center about ways to enact positive change in the African-American community and for future generations.
On Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Apollo Room, the center will host four screenings of “Letters from the Birmingham Jail,” a historical documentary about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and work.
Thursday, beginning at 11:45 a.m., the Bolinga Center will hold its third annual MLK Week march and rally. The march will begin at three separate locations: the main doors of Dunbar Library, in front of the C-Store and in the Woods residential community at Laurel Hall. The marchers will meet at B.A.R.T. and end the march at the Student Union, where a campus rally will be held at 12:45 p.m.
“It’s symbolic. You start where you are and then move toward a larger goal, toward the Student Union,” said Patterson. “It’s a model of solidarity and leadership.”
Amaha Sellassie, sociology major and Bolinga Center volunteer, was part of the team that helped coordinate festivities in King’s honor. Sellassie said this is the third year the Bolinga Center has celebrated MLK Week and that this year’s theme is King’s “World House vision”—that all people are neighbors, a part of a “worldwide neighborhood.”
Sellassie said King was the main reason for the celebration, but it was important to recognize the “many heroes and sheroes that have a similar vision of a common humanity” as well.
Patterson said this year’s rally will be an opportunity to do a “teach-in”—using teaching as a tool for creating change.
This year’s on-campus march and rally will include a “weaving of dreams,” said Sellassie. The dreams of students—written on index cards—will be collected and woven together to create an “overall dream” that will hang in Millett Hall, said Sellassie.