MLK march and conference highlights progress left to be made
In celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., MSU students and faculty held a leadership conference named in his honor Monday in the Union Ballroom.
MSU community members and high school students who attend low-income or at-risk schools were invited.
Alumna Dakota Riehl graduated from MSU’s Residential College in the Arts & Humanities and is now the public relations chair of the conference.
Riehl said the point of the conference is to bring a sense of activism to campus, share ideas on inclusive groups and create dynamic communities.
“We’re really passionate about bringing students who might not have the information or supplies they need to go to college,” Riehl said.
At the conference, students were informed of what applying to MSU entails. They also attended workshops focusing on social injustice in America.
Many workshops were led by students and campus organizations, such as the MSU Black Student Alliance.
“We really want to empower our leaders on campus to show what their goals are and display their leadership,” Riehl said. “I want everyone to know that these are incredibly passionate and successful students who are working to make MSU an inclusive and better community.”
Before participants departed for the march, keynote speaker and Vice President of the Office of Student Affairs and Services Denise Maybank shared words of wisdom to students and faculty. President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and journalism senior Tyler Clifford, also spoke about why students should continue to march.
“Let love drive you, because life isn’t about you,” Clifford said. “Life is in fact about how you affect everyone around you. ”
As many as 350 people marched and congregated at Beaumont Tower . The march featured special guest Henry James Thomas, who was one of the original Freedom Riders in 1961 .
“We had an integrated movement, whites of good will stood with us,” Thomas said during the march. “I really would love to see more of the white students joining you as well.”
He also shared an experience where himself and other riders were held on a bus and were almost burned alive by members of the Ku Klux Klan. The flames ignited the fuel tank at back of the bus and blew the doors out, allowing the riders to escape.
“I’m so happy that you don’t have to fight those battles now, but the ones I’ve told you about, you have to fight them,” Thomas said. “We’ve come a long way, but as the good doctor said, ‘not quite enough.’”