King would be proud, but would have serious questions

By: Panther staff
Jan 27, 2017

After returning from the winter holidays, Claflin University students began their spring semester of academics by honoring the revolutionary Martin Luther King Jr.

 “It’s a holiday for equality, it’s a holiday for everyone. Yes, it was about equality between blacks and whites but through that struggle we see all quality for all people now in all races and all types of people,” freshman music major Aaliyah Stokes said.

The meaning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day is to celebrate the life and achievements of the man as an influential American civil rights leader. However, is the life and legacy of one man who brought hope and healing to America really relevant?

 “Martin Luther King Day marks the importance of what he did for equality for all and we have to remember that struggle that it took to get us where we are now,” freshman Music major Aaliyah Stokes said.

“Martin Luther King Day is relevant because racism still exists to this day, like Donald Trump is our president, for God sake. People really think that they can just say anything they want and this country is nowhere near where it needs to be. We still have to fight for a lot of things to be equal, not just dealing with race but like with sexism as well,” sophomore Biology major Jordan Wallace said.

Early Childhood Education major Melody Rivers said, “Yes, Martin Luther King Day is relevant because he’s really made an impact on the world. Of course if you’re knowledgeable, you know he wasn’t a perfect man, no human is, but still the life that he made way for us has made an impact on the world.”

Many students traveled back home for the short holiday and others preferred to stay on campus for a personal remembrance with friends.

“I’m just thankful. I look back on all the blessings that I have because of him and what he did for all of us. Without him I wouldn’t have some of the teammates I have on our Claflin volleyball team, some of the friends I have on campus. I wouldn’t have nearly half as many opportunities I’ve had, so I just like to give thanks,” Wallace said.

Meanwhile, the university’s president and the Claflin University Concert Choir were invited to the Martin Luther King Community Center in Columbia, where Dr. Henry N. Tisdale spoke in honor of King.

“I’m a member of the Claflin University Concert Choir, so I’m usually performing somewhere singing spirituals or just songs that represent struggle and overcoming as Martin Luther King did,” Stokes said.

“I am also a member of the Concert Choir on campus so for the last years we’ve had performances where we sing a song called ‘I Have Been to the Mountain’ and it’s in dedication to Martin Luther King, so that’s really the first time that I’ve really taken it upon myself to really embrace Martin Luther King Day,” Rivers said.

With the year just beginning, one can wonder what King would say about society if he were here now. Would he be proud of what came after his movement? Would he be satisfied with the outcome?

“I feel like he would have been happy with the progress that’s been made with civil rights. He probably would be upset about the president we have to take now,” Stokes said.

 “I wouldn’t say he wouldn’t be proud, I feel like he’d be happy with how far we’ve come but he’d also have to ask, ‘what the heck is going on?’ Like you can be doing so much better but you’re blowing a lot of things,” Wallace said.

“I’m pretty sure he would feel like most of his work has been in vain. I hope he sees some of the progress, but I know he’s thinking there’s a long way to go,” Rivers said.


Many people just forget


On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Fifty-four years later, there is the question: Is MLK Day still significant in people’s lives?

Brea Bailey, a sophomore marketing major at Claflin, replied with a hesitant “Yes.”

“Just like holidays and New Year’s resolutions, it comes and it goes,” she said. “The hype is inspiring for the moment but dies down with time, and then we move on to the next big thing.”

“To me it’s about what’s current and what we see on the news today,” Bailey said. “Although they don’t have a national holiday, our generation has the Obamas and past generations had the Kings. He’s an honorable figure and relevant to our history, but his works are not current, therefore many people just forget.

Shaquille Sanders, a sophomore art major, said, “Without his presence, we would not be as far as we are today as a people and as a nation. His vision motivated thousands, young and old, black and white, to be a part of a movement that promoted justice for all.”

Freshman Martin Dukes said: “Our community is just using this holiday for a day off. I am pretty sure a majority of our student body won’t be looking for a program or MLK event to go to on their day off from classes.”

Senior Kevin Simmons, said, “We should continue to celebrate our history not just on MLK day. But sadly we get too wrapped up in our day-to-day lives and not look back on how we got here to begin with. I know I am guilty of this.”

Holiday does not get enough recognition


Senior mass communication major Jeturi Brown is not convinced that the Martin Luther King holiday is observed the way it should be.

“For everything he stood for, you would think that he would be beloved by all people,” Brown said. “It was an uphill fight to get the King birthday labeled as a federal holiday in the first place, and it still doesn’t get enough recognition.”

The holiday was first recognized in 1999.

Brown, who hails from Detroit, points out that some businesses choose to ignore the holiday completely.

Junior sports management major Darryl Langston does not think MLK is given enough recognition among all creeds of people for being a pivotal leader for all rights, not just civil rights.

“Of course black people and businesses hold MLK Day in higher esteem then probably any other race of people do,” Langton said. “I don’t think it is anything wrong with it being that way. Also I just would have thought it would be different.

“We are out of school, so that shows it’s a day on a calendar holiday, but I think the holiday should go deeper than that with all king fought for.”

Sophomore sports management major Trey L. Grayson, said, “ I believe its celebrated like any other holiday. I believe his legacy is still a positive and impactful one. It’s 2017, we just had a black president for two terms, I think the acknowledgement is what counts.”

Respect for King and Malcolm X


Some will argue that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not quite a holiday, while others say that it should be.

King was a huge contributor to America, especially in the South during the Civil Rights Era.

Claflin history major junior Tommy Littles said, “This is not just a day off from work or school, it’s a day that we honor a man, a martyr, someone who sacrificed their life for equality in America during a tough time. We have to be thankful for what he has done.”

Freshman biology major Franklin Howard agreed that the day should be observed as a holiday.

“I don’t want to bring race into it, or make this a racial thing, but we as African-Americans should really take time out and observe this as a special holiday due to the history behind it.”

When asked to compare King and Malcolm X, music major and junior Devin Mackey said: “It’s simple, I would have to say Malcolm X wanted to fight back, living faithfully by the motto ‘by any means necessary’ to protect his family. While on the other hand, you have Dr. King who felt that non-violence was the answer to things. Either way you must respect both men.”

More recognition is due


The MLK holiday is a time to remember a man of great passion and honor for what he believed in, students say.

Vincent Jones, a senior at Claflin University, said the holiday should have more importance and recognition that it gets.

“Yes, a lot of people talk of the day and a few stores are closed, but do we really think twice of how important this man (was) and what he did for us?” Jones said. “This day should be shown much love, just as Christmas or Thanksgiving, and this is something I don’t think people understand.”

A lot of people are appreciative of the various routes and troubles Dr. Martin Luther King went through. Among them is freshman Asia Stevens, who said she really enjoys the day and shows a lot of love.

“My family and I go out and witness about the past of Dr. King and the legacy that he left behind. I’m forever grateful for what Dr. King did for my family,” she said.

Justin Graham, a graduating senior, said people aren’t too aware of what the holiday actually means and the importance of it.

“I would like there to be more recognition for sure of a great man and for his doings. People all around the world are grateful for the legacy King left behind. This is a holiday to be forever remembered.”

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