Weber State University students had several opportunities last week to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Different campus organizations held events such as the Munch and March and other volunteering events at non-profit organizations in Ogden.
The Davis campus offered students a chance at personal expression. Annie Garcia, director of diversity for the WSU Davis campus student council and WSU health administration major, chose to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. by hosting a poetry slam with the theme of I Have a Dream. Students, faculty and the community were welcome to share their own personal poetry or any other poet’s work that they felt embodied King’s legacy.
“King was able to use his words to move people in a way that reading and texts can’t really do,” Garcia said. “He brought to life his dreams and inspirations for his children and the future generations, and I thought that poetry in general is inspirational. The way people perform at poetry slams is more emotional, and people put more enthusiasm and feelings into it.”
WSU students and staff took turns sharing poetry and short essays while others watched on, eating snacks provided by the student council. Along with original pieces, some recited works by Langston Hughes, William Blake and Rudyard Kipling.
“We originally were just going to do a poetry slam where there are judges and people perform and we have a winner,” Garcia said. “Instead of doing the traditional way, we just decided to do an open mic so that people can read something if they feel inspired to.”
Jennifer Grandi, faculty adviser for the WSU Davis student council, recited “I Too Sing America” and “Democracy,” both by Langston Hughes. She prefaced her readings by sharing her first experiences with Hughes.
“Langston Hughes was a poet, and he was the first black poet that I really knew anything about,” Grandi said. “It was probably the fourth grade that we had a reader. I really enjoyed his poetry.”
WSU student Alexis Marquez, who is the assistant director of diversity for the Davis campus student council, was one of the participants in the poetry slam.
“I guess because it was something different,” Marquez said about the poetry slam. “A lot of people do the same thing with the diversity aspect, you know, Chinese New Year or something like that, but we never really do anything that has to do with Martin Luther King Jr. here at least.”
Marquez shared why she thought that poetry was the direction the student council went with to celebrate King.
“I think because there is always meaning in poetry,” Marquez said. “Some poetry is depressing, but I think a lot of it is uplifting too and inspirational, and Martin Luther King is a great person to do it after.”
Garcia said she hopes that more students will participate in future events at the WSU Davis campus.
“It depends on the event, but for a diversity aspect we don’t get as much of a turnout,” Garcia said. “The non-traditional students mostly go to the family events. We are trying to get more people to the diversity events.”