MLK Day: President not upholding dream of equality

By: Panther staff
Jan 22, 2018

PANTHER 2018 spring king illustration                  


Claflin students still see the relevance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and celebrated with a reflection on his legacy.

Jan. 15, 2018, marked the 50th anniversary of the death of civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr.

Angel McFadden, a junior early childhood education major, said she spent the day reading about King’s life and the legacy he left behind.

“I think it’s something we tend to take for granted simply because it’s not something that’s talked about year-long,” McFadden said.

Nnenna Odeghe, a freshman from Nigeria, said celebrating MLK Day is important to all students because King’s fight against inequality enabled foreign students to study in America.

However, in light of President Donald Trump’s recent remarks on immigration, some students believe the president of the United States does not uphold King’s dream of equality.

According to a CNN article, Trump said the U.S. should encourage immigration from Norwegians instead of Haitians and Africans.

Omotunde Oredipe, a student at South Carolina State University, said, “I think it’s unfortunate, but I don’t think it’s definitive of Americans.”

“It totally goes against it,” McFadden said. “It’s not fair because we all deserve a chance at what we believe in.”

The stance that America takes affects everyone, including those outside the country, McFadden said.

Students also recognized the importance of HBCUs in the fight for equality. In 1948, King earned a B.A. degree in sociology from Morehouse College, an HBCU.

“There was a time if you were black and a professional, you went to an HBCU,” Oredipe said.

McFadden said HBCUs were a privilege for black people in America at a time when no other institution would educate black students

Quentin McKnight, a senior business administration major, said there should be more cooperation with black leaders to support HBCUs.

Still searching for equality


Has the dream become a reality or nightmare?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activist, gave his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech in  1963 during a time when America was in a civil war for economic and social equality. Since the speech, has there been any change? 

Ashante Graham, junior political science major, said, "I believe that there has not been a lot of change since the speech. We're still marching for equality and its 2018." 

Graham's opinion is shared by others in a world where minorities are still viewed as violent or incompetent and still suffer from racial profiling.

"It leads you to think, ‘What did Dr. King and many other civil rights leaders fight for?’ It is sad that as a young black college student, I still have to prove myself to society. Especially since I am a STEM major," said Kai Cobb, senior bioinformatics major. 

Still struggling – but better


Martin Luther King Jr.’s activism is still important today to many students. 

King was a civil rights activist who wanted equality for all mankind to be able to love one another without being judged. People have come very far from the civil rights era, but there is still much work to be done. 

“We are still struggling from some problems from back then, but we are better,” Melonie Bryant, a senior psychology major, said. “We still need to apply his theories from the ‘60s to today.”

Jamaris Robinson, a senior music education major, said, “The way he did his protest was powerful because it was peaceful.” 

In remembering King’s legacy, students described what they believe are his best characteristics as a person. 

“Visionary,” Imani Ray, a junior psychology major, said.

“Selfless,” Jamaris Robinson said. 

Service is a part of the King legacy. Along with it, students also understand the purpose of what King stood for. 

“We need to remember that he wanted togetherness,” Melonie Bryant said. 


Building on King foundation


The MLK Day celebration comes with mixed feelings about the way his legacy is treated.

In celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Claflin University observed his legacy and looked down the path he made along with the civil rights movement.

One can ask if he or she thinks Dr. King’s legacy and message has stuck through time and if it applies to the modern era.

“Even though there are still racial issues that arise as a nation, we’ve grown to accept some people as our brothers and sisters and live in some harmony,” Kayla Scarborough, MISS Women’s Group member, said.

“He made sure his message stuck to the minds of people everywhere.”

“Yes and no, I mean in today’s society most people say that they remember his message but only apply it to MLK Day and Black History Month,” senior Thomas Grant said.

It is also appears that civil unrest happens even still, but it has calmed over the years.

“If we are speaking on what he has done, it got us to where we are now,” said Reice Buckner, a student from S.C. State. “It is the foundation that we continue to build on, though it isn’t perfect and we aren’t where we want to be but we still continue to fight for equality.”

Holiday still has meaning


As Claflin entered the spring semester of the school year, the university honored the legendary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan 15.

But is MLK Day just another day to students?

Makayla Stormer, graduating senior business administration major, said, "Martin Luther King is a celebration of one of the major civil rights activists that paved the way to make sure we could advance as blacks in this world.

“He fought for our equality, and not in a hateful manner. He made all of his protests peaceful, and never downplayed other races in the process.

“His only wish was that we could live in a world where all races could live in harmony. And it is sad to say that we still aren’t there, so celebrating this day is a reminder of not only how far we have come, but how far we still have to go.”

Jada Pond, a freshman mass communications major with a minor in political science, said the holiday is not just another day.

“My reason is because Martin Luther King Jr. was not an ordinary person,” Pond said. “Every year in Anderson, South Carolina, we would visit the civic center, and our youth choir would sing a song dedicated to MLK Jr. There would be a special guest speaker every year, and they would speak on Martin Luther King Jr. and why he was so influential to our lives.”

Taylor Burton, a freshman biology major, said, “Martin Luther King Jr. is not just a regular day, because without him, where would we be? He made a way for African-Americans who were too afraid to stand up for themselves; and he had a vital leadership role in the black community throughout his life.”

If he were alive today …


Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy still lives today , Claflin University students said.

It has been 50 years since the assassination of the civil rights leader, and there is still belief in the dream, junior business major Shakey Clayton said.

“I think African-American history will always be essential to the black community,” junior criminal justice major Diamond Brown said. “We as a union need to stick together because the world we live in now is dangerous.”

“If he were still alive today, sadly I think things would not change,” she said.

Senior business major Jessica Mozie said, “I say this because not only was he a black man, but he was a powerful black man, and society doesn’t like black men with power.”

Commercialization of MLK Day too


Some in the Orangeburg community don’t believe MLK Day is celebrated how it should be.

A teacher at Claflin University believes Martin Luther King Jr. Day is just as important as any other holiday. But, just like any other holiday, it is overly commercialized.

“There is a tendency to commercialize everything, like ‘oh there’s a Veterans Day sale,” Dr. Gaynell Gavin said. “I think it’s happening with MLK Day too.”

A senior from Lake Marion High School said MLK Day was taught more when she was younger and not so much now.

“He is important because he shaped our future,” Shontavia Riggins said. “And it’s only celebrated in big cities in the South.”

Riggins said she thinks if MLK Jr. were alive, he would have a positive effect on the current politic problem and police brutality.

“It’s just a replay of what happened in the past.”

However, Riggins said fewer of the younger generation would follow him if he were still alive. She believes very few young people think what is going on is a problem.

“Other people are ignorant and say unhelpful things like f*** the cops,” Riggins said.

Fighter for human good


Claflin students honored, remembered and reflected on the national day of celebration and recognition of the birthday and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 15.

Students took time to really look at the greatness of Dr. King, and how he has impacted their lives well after his death.

Dominique Riggins reflected on King’s biggest impact overall and how he directly impacted his own life.

“MLK’s biggest impact to me was that he was able to represent and fight for human good all as a black, Southern and educated man.”

Riggins, a senior history major, said King directly impacted his life through his work.

“Any fight and work for justice anywhere is a direct impact on the lives of people everywhere. That is my belief and the teaching of MLK.”

Miracle Mozzee, a junior business major, also took time to reflect King’s direct impact on her life.

“MLK paved a way for African-Americans to be free from racism, discrimination and equality. He was the voice for our community and without his dedication and hard work I may not have the rights and respect that I have today.”

Senior business major Briana Williams talked about why King is so important to her.

“He’s important to me because of his unwavering dedication to the fulfillment of equality in this nation, and his leadership during the civil rights era laid a significant foundation for my future.”

Williams also recognized that King had many achievements, but she thinks his biggest achievement has to do with hope.

“I think his biggest achievement was establishing hope in the black community and actually capturing the attention of White America.”

Williams also added that she thinks King ranks as one of the great leaders of the world because he was able to inspire so much even after his death.

Despite all of the recognition King has received, including his monument in Washington, D.C., Ty Thomas believes King deserves more recognition.

Thomas, the junior business major said, “I think he deserves more recognition because you can’t pile all of his accomplishments into one day. We should be celebrating MLK throughout the year.”


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