Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Student Plans Successful MLK Day Event

By Drew Schaar

The Martin Luther King Junior tribute on the campus of Ohio University didn't plan itself. OU senior Deandre Christian started working the event nine months ago in the spring of 2008. Christian was responsible for planning all details of the event from booking the speaker to creating a budget. Kent Smith, Vice President for Student Affairs at Ohio University, recognized Christian for all of his hard work, adding he did it all on his own. "I'm so proud of Deandre," Smith said, "he's gone through the entire process of planning, contracting, funding, interviewing, and having meetings in order to plan this event."

Christian took on the role as a way to gain experience and give back to the community. He worked closely with Dr. Smith who advised the project. Christian managed every detail of the program, deciding how much to charge for tickets, and even picking the design. Christian said, "Martin Luther King Day…it's not just a day off. It's a day on. So by me recognizing that fact is why I am dedicating so much time to this event." In response, Smith said, "I get excited to see a student take an idea and make it a reality and turn it into an event. This is an experience you can't measure."

Kent Smith and Deandre Christian talk about the program and MLK Day

Joe Rogers, former lieutenant governor of Colorado, was this year's speaker at the annual memorial brunch. He was chosen in conjunction with the "Dream Alive" Program. Rogers incorporates part of King's "I Have a Dream" and "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speeches into his presentation. Rogers feels that King's legacy is still relevant to people today, and that is why he devotes his time to sharing them. He hopes to make Martin Luther King relevant to people's lives and dreams of today.

Before the annual brunch got underway, a silent march from Galbreath Chapel to Baker University Center was held. Despite the freshly fallen snow, a crowd of roughly fifty people gathered to remember King and his work. People of all ages and differing races joined arms and walked side by side down the brick sidewalks of OU's campus. Cold temperatures and a coat of snow didn't turn people away. In fact, one participant said, "It's just a beautiful morning…the snow is very pretty." The crowd slowly made its way to Baker, where guests filed into the ballroom for the brunch and speaker.

Many people participate in the Silent March

The brunch and guest speaker was presented to a full house in the Baker Center Ballroom. All 400 seats were sold out. Guests included many local figures. OU President Roderick McDavis and his wife, Senator Jimmy Stewart, and Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl were all present for the keynote speaker.

Planning for next year's MLK Day event will start spring quarter. If you're intersted in helping out, contact the Vice President of Student Affairs' Office.

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