“‘We the people’ is referring to the people of the United States,” said EMU alumnus Kenneth Dobson. “However, there was a problem…‘We the people’ did not include all rights for all men, all rights for all women, all rights for all minorities, nor did it include all the rights for people with a lower income. These are the type of people Dr. Martin Luther King stood up for.”
At the Martin Luther King Jr. statue located between Boone Hall and Welch Hall, dozens gathered for the annual commemorative march to honor King’s legacy and to reflect the historic 1965 Selma-Montgomery March done by thousands of non-violent demonstrators.
EMU President James Smith, Dobson and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity had opening words before the march began, concluding with EMU’s Gospel Choir performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” written by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson.
“The importance of this 33-year legacy is the fact that we do remember,” President Smith said. “We do come together, we do believe as a community that by being united, we make a difference.”
Although the weather was cold with light snowfall, President Smith, staff, members of Student Government, various EMU athletic teams, Alpha Phi Alpha and Ypsilanti citizens participated in the march from the south to the north side of campus.
Having the march as the first event of EMU’s annual MLK celebrations, the participants had their own reasons on why they attended and what the march meant to them.
It took approximately 15 minutes to complete with Alpha Phi Alpha members leading the way to the Student Center.
Senior Taurean McMichael has been a member of Alpha Phi Alpha starting in fall 2016 and participated in every march since then.
“To call him my brother is just so amazing because not everybody in the world can say that and me joining the fraternity, I just learn more about him,” he said.
Iota Phi Theta member Steven Johnson joined the march late, but managed to follow to the end.
“I am out to march because Dr. Martin Luther King was very important in getting everyone equal,” Johnson said. I had family back then who weren’t treated right. “They always had to go to the colored schools and colored water fountains. They couldn’t go to the white schools and have those opportunities.”
Resident advisors on campus were instructed to encourage their halls to attend the MLK celebration events. Sophomore Resident Advisor Savana Rolle thought that the march would be a great start for their residents.
“I know a lot of freshmen don’t want to do something really like strenuous, and I know a lot of people might not want to go because [when] they… think MLK, that means they have to be Black to attend, but I thought this would be a good event to let people know that that is not the case.”
The march concluded on the third floor of the Student Center where artwork created by EMU and Ypsilanti Community High School students were featured in the MLK Student Art Showcase.