Luncheon celebrates historic figure’s dreams

Dr. Gloria payne, associate professor of teacher education, socializes during the Martin Luther King Jr. luncheon Jan. 19.

Kristin Wilfing

Dr. Gloria payne, associate professor of teacher education, socializes during the Martin Luther King Jr. luncheon Jan. 19.

Kathleen Cunningham

To celebrate the life and works of the late civil rights leader, on Jan. 19, Missouri Southern held its fourth annual Martin Luther King Jr. luncheon in Billingsly Student Center.

The event was organized by Southern IMPACT and was intended to allow students to pay tribute to King instead of having the day off like other colleges.

Listening to poetry readings, musical and vocal numbers, students and faculty were able to enjoy lunch while coming together in appreciation of King.

The participation in the luncheon was open to any student who wanted to pay tribute to King.

“I look for anybody who is willing and shows interest,” said Monique Canada, sophomore biology major and vice president of IMPACT.

This year’s event was a first for Daron Harris as the new president of the organization who said he was nervous days prior to the event.

“I was nervous about the turnout and how the program would go,” Harris said.

Harris said his favorite part of the event was the vocal collaboration of Dana Mae Robbs and Canada singing “I just can’t give up now,” adding that their song was relevant to what African Americans went through during their struggles.

“I thought the song went well with what happened back then; a lot of those people were like ‘I can’t give up now, I can’t let these people stop us,'” he said.

Many who attended the event had their own reasons as to why King plays an important role in today’s society and should therefore be honored.

Canada said as a minority, King’s work has affected her life.

“He paved the way for me as a black student,” she said.

Graham Dickinson, senior finance major, said he enjoyed the MLK event and sees value in celebrating his legacy.

“He started a movement and he changed the way society looks at individuals,” Dickinson said. “What can be learned from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is individuals of any kind can pursue things that they feel are morally and ethically correct.”

Some students, while engaging in the events, still felt Southern should not have held classes.

“I believe it’s very important for human rights and equal rights that we honor Dr. Martin Luther King,” said David Torres, senior accounting major. “I believe we shouldn’t be open on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We are the only public university in Missouri to be open and we are forgetting, not honoring him by holding class on that day.”

Harris said while he also hears many students complaining about not having the day off, he felt there could have been a better turnout at a event recognizing the cause.

There were those who felt the responsibility of coming together is one which falls upon everyone.

“It’s an ongoing struggle,” said Tori Maloukis, director of student activities. “I don’t believe it’s a struggle for any one race or one culture for equality.”

She said King’s message was part of her life growing up.

“I remember learning about Martin Luther King as a child and throughout my education,” Maloukis said. “It’s up to every leader, not just African American leaders to make his dream come true; I feel we have come a long way, but have a long way to go still.”