In just a few days, the celebration of Black History Month will begin nationwide, but the celebration of civil rights has already begun on the University of Mary Washington campus with a weeklong remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr. following the holiday in his honor.
President Barack Obama kicked off his week of inaugural festivities by urging the nation to take part in what he called the most important part of the inauguration by honoring King through service volunteering. UMW students echoed the same sentiments by spending the long weekend volunteering at service events on campus.
The James Farmer Multicultural Center hosted a week of learning in conjunction with service at UMW. The week began with the showing of a documentary called “Sing Your Song,” which was about the journey of singer Harry Belafonte, who marched with King and is also known for his inspirational life in international civil rights activism and humanitarianism.
Steve Pemberton, divisional vice president and chief diversity officer for Walgreens gave the keynote address, striking an inspirational tone. Pemberton is extensively involved in volunteer service, having served on boards for organizations such as Big Brother Big Sister and Citi Performing Arts Center. Pemberton hopes to carry out King’s values of equality and hard.
“Pemberton [was] a bi-racial man who grew up in the foster care system of Boston as a boy and against all odds became one of the top 20 Chief Diversity Officers in corporate America,” said junior Marjahn Goodman.
“His story was inspiring and reminded us that, even when life is difficult, you have a chance to become whatever it is you aspire to be. M.L.K Jr., I am sure, would be honored by the things Pemberton said. Just as M.L.K Jr. did, Pemberton is paving a way for future black leaders in America.”
Through these inspirational lectures and films, students were led to participate in the end of the week’s service activities. In addition to a blood and bone marrow drive on Wednesday, students gave back to the Fredericksburg community by volunteering with local children for M.L.K Kid’s Day and also by participating in the University’s MLK Day of Service. Junior Kelly Glazebrook was able to help out with organizing craft activities for students.
“It’s good to educate the kids about MLK, through crafts, if they didn’t know that much about him,” Glazebrook said.