MLK Day marked: NMU celebration held Monday, events to continue throughout week

Students take part in a march for equality on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on the Northern Michigan University campus. Activities to honor King’s legacy are scheduled for throughout the week at NMU. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — A campus march for equality on Martin Luther King Jr. Day kicked off a weeklong celebration at Northern Michigan University to honor the legacy of the late civil rights leader.

The march went through a section of the campus and finished at the Lodge at The Woods housing complex where programming continued.

Activities included speeches on diversity and inclusion, a presentation by Poetry Without Borders and service projects led by the Center for Student Enrichment. Those projects involved making toys for dogs at the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter, knitting and crocheting items for the Women’s Center and creating thank you cards for residents of the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans.

Shirley Brozzo, the associate director of the Multicultural Education and Resource Center at NMU who helped lead Monday’s events, believes it’s important to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day because of his message about being inclusive and bringing education to the people.

“Everybody should be included — kindness, diversity, bring us all together and unite instead of finding ways to say we’re also exclusive of things, or not recognizing people’s differences,” Brozzo said.

Desi Nims, a graduate student at Northern Michigan University, makes a dog toy that will be donated to the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter. The service project was one of several activities that took place on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

NMU President Fritz Erickson spoke at the Lodge, choosing to read powerful excerpts from Dr. King’s speech given during the March 25, 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights in Alabama. They included:

“Yes, we are on the move, and no wave of racism can stop us, and the burning of our churches will not divert us.”

“We’re moving ahead to the land of freedom. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding.”

“But I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long because truth pressed to the earth will rise again.”

Following Erickson’s speech, Brozzo told the audience at the Lodge, “I think it’s really telling that these words still are so important today.”

An NMU group called the Ripple Effect was scheduled to hold a celebration Monday evening in the Hedgcock atrium. According to the NMU website, the purpose of Ripple Effect is to connect students with community members interested in supporting students’ needs and foster positive interactions and goodwill between the campus and the local community.

Interns from the NMU Food Pantry and members of the Student Leader Fellowship Program were to be at the Beaumier Welcome Center on Monday afternoon to train students to volunteer at the pantry.

Shantia Coley, Esquire, an attorney and first-generation college student, will be the keynote speaker at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Peninsula Room 1 of the Northern Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The Diversity Common Reader Program will distribute this year’s selection, “Southside Buddhist” by Ira Sukrungruang, to NMU students from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday in the Hedgcock atrium.

The events are sponsored by the MERC, the President’s Committee on Diversity, McNair Scholars and Graduate Education.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.