Celebrating the legacy of King at Hampton U.

By Meagan P. Downing

Students, faculty, and members of the community gathered Monday on the grounds of Hampton University to commemorate the 26th celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday. This annual celebration honors the life and legacy of the activist and leader. And it invokes individuals to further commit and better understand the necessity of serving their communities and fulfilling King’s dream.  

Participants began the day’s festivities by engaging in a march, which started at the historical landmark Emancipation Oak and culminated with a ceremony at Ogden Hall. 

The celebratory events were sponsored by the Hampton University Pan-Hellenic Council and the campus Student Activities Office. Students representing various organizations participated in the event. Members from the various student organizations displayed signs during the march.

Anzell Harrell, assistant director of student activities, said, “During this occasion, we will be recapturing the revolutionary memory and movement of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I hope that [the students] will understand the meaning of the struggle and fight of African-Americans to get to this point where we are.” 

The ceremony began with a prayer from Bresean Jenkins, the assistant chaplain, and greetings from Eyden Thomas, Miss Hampton University 2011-2012.   

Several students participated throughout the ceremony rendering musical selections and addressing the audience with expressions about King.

Junior Class President Isaiah Stewart challenged the audience to examine their character throughout the year to “produce the change they want to see.”

The keynote speaker was Brandon Jones, the Youth Development Director for Newport News Public Schools. He discussed the importance of being a leader and following Dr. King’s example of “believing in something bigger than you.”  

Bridgette Friend, a member of Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Temple, described the ceremony as excellent: “It brought back a lot of memories.” Friend hopes the college students were inspired by the messages they heard.

Before leaving Odgen Hall, Rev. Dr. Jerome A. Barber told the audience to tell their neighbor “dreams still come true.” After sharing that message, the audience joined hands to sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

“I count it a privilege to be celebrating this holiday,” said freshman pre-pharmacy major Erin Coney. “In high school, I have always regarded this day, but it was just another day off. But this year I am at an HBCU and I consider it an honor to celebrate this day with other African- Americans 

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications