By Karyn Cook
The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. was remembered and discussed in a series of events held at Virginia Commonwealth University.
On January 17th, the Theta Rho chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated held their annual silent vigil and peace walk. King belonged to the Sigma Alumnae chapter of the fraternity, located in Boston, Massachusetts. Participants received a candle, which was then lit, and started a walk from VCUarts Depot to the VCU James Branch Cabell Library, where a speech was given by brother Bobbie Newell Jr,; the event ended at the academic commons where King’s: “I have been to the mountaintop “speech was played, and refreshments were served.
Brother Bobbie Newell Jr., an initiate of the Virginia Union Chapter of the fraternity, was the keynote speaker. “If Dr. King were alive today, I do not think he would be happy about the state of America”, Newell spoke to a crowd on a cold night under a picture of King. He discussed the hardships of America, from police accountability to racists.
“It is not too late to avoid the death of our civilization, but it’s up to us to speak up, protest, call out injustice, and hold our lawmakers accountable. It is now up to us to make the change that Dr. King so longed for” Newell said.
The Activities Planning Board, an organization at VCU that plans events on campus held MLK legacy weekend, held a panel discussion on a variety of topics, with current black students providing their views on a variety of different subjects.
The discussions included mental health, the use of the “n” word, generational curses, and being black at a predominately white university.
“I want to break the generational curse of mental health stigma”, said panelist Taya Coates, a junior fashion-merchandising and Mass Communications major.
“While VCU does have events catered to the black community, all of those have been student-led”, one student stated, to roaring applause.
Later that day, a student mixer was held featuring a variety of black organizations. The national Pan-Hellenic society was present which consists of historically African American fraternities and sororities, along with dance organizations, writing organizations, and even student-led businesses.
On January 30th, the day began with a yoga event, “Mindful Breathing, Movement & Meditation, held by Baresoul Yoga along with JuiceLifeRVA, Richmond’s first mobile cold-pressed juice bar. Followed by the final event of the weekend, a service reflecting on King’s impact to the community.