Photo by Caleb Revill / MTSU Sidelines
MTSU students and alumni were invited to the Tucker Theater on campus Monday to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with guest speakers and a candlelight vigil.
The event was an MTSU Connection Point, hosted in partnership between MTSU’s Intercultural Diversity Affairs Center and the MTSU Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity chapter. The vigil also included featured performances by MTSU’s Generation of Purpose gospel choir and violinist Chandler Custer.
Brian Marshall, the historian of the Alpha Phi Alpha chapter, welcomed attendees. Marshall spoke about the accomplishments that King made in leading the civil rights movement for African-Americans in the United States.
“This year marks the 55th anniversary of his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” Marshall said. “Some may celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. as a great peacemaker (and) as a great speech-maker but fail to grasp the legacy of leadership that he has left for us to embrace.”
Marshall explained that society should be following the lessons left by King in day-to-day life.
“The magnitude of his legacy cannot be transmitted just by one speech or just by this holiday from year to year,” Marshall said. “Therefore, we should exemplify the unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered Dr. King every day of his life.”
Marshall then introduced MTSU’s Generation of Purpose gospel choir. They sang the song, “King Jesus is a Listening,” in a choral fashion.
After the performance, Ontario McGregor, the president of MTSU’s Alpha Phi Alpha chapter, showed a short segment of the Black Entertainment Television documentary, “Alpha Man: The Brotherhood of MLK.”
The film described King, in his college years, as a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity at Boston University.
Brian Marshall then returned to the stage to introduce Custer, a student and violinist from Austin Peay State University. Custer played a tribute to King’s wife, Coretta Scott King. While Custer played the bittersweet melody, pictures of King and Coretta were projected onto a screen above the stage.
Keynote speaker, actor and director Phil Wallace was the next speaker to take the stage. Most notably, Wallace acted in the movie, “Nothing But the Truth,” in 2008 and directed the film, “100 Lives,” in 2009. He has also had a role in an episode of Country Music Television’s “Nashville.”
Wallace told a story of King’s life, referencing King’s childhood, college years, time as an activist and assassination.
Wallace spoke about King being told inspiring stories by his father during King’s childhood.
One story was about an eagle’s egg that was placed in a nest of chickens. When the eagle was born, he looked around and believed that he was also a chicken. When he finally saw another eagle flying high in the sky, he was told that he could never fly that high because he was a chicken. Due to this belief, the eagle never flew higher than a few feet off of the ground.
“Daddy King said to little Martin Luther King Jr., ‘Son, never settle for less than the best, and always be the best you you can be,’” Wallace said.
At the end of the program, the audience joined guest speaker and New Vision Baptist Church college pastor Dakota Logan in reciting MTSU’s True Blue Pledge.
Guests were given blue candlelights and encouraged to introduce themselves to someone in the audience that they didn’t already know.
MTSU freshman and songwriting major Evan Upton attended the program to pay tribute and learn more about King.
“(This event is) very educational and very powerful in bringing different cultures and different people together to understand where we’ve come from, what we’ve been through and just to bond together in unity” Upton said.
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