The week of service presented by Weber State University to celebrate the life and service of Martin Luther King Jr. kicked off at the Marshall White Community Center in Ogden. The community center hosted the NAACP breakfast and freedom march, otherwise known as the Munch & March. Members of the WSU Student Association on the Diversity Board helped to organize the event that lasted from 8:30-11:30 a.m. on Monday morning.
At the breakfast, Joseph Nicholas, president of the NAACP Ogden branch, handed out awards. Ryan Smith, the celebrations and traditions chair on the Diversity Board, read the Emancipation Proclamation, and Pastor Carey McCall of the New Zion Baptist Church in Ogden was the guest speaker.
McCall spoke about King’s influence as a nonviolent man and how everyone should engage in the service of their fellow men and women to honor him this day.
“It’s because of Dr. King’s efforts, and the intuitiveness of those early pioneers for equality, that here in the city of Ogden and the great state of Utah, we join in a diverse gathering that reflects what the dream dared to accomplish,” said McCall in his speech.
McCall, a native of New Jersey, moved to Ogden about six weeks ago to lead the New Zion Baptist Church. He said another minister asked him to speak, and he prepared the speech late Sunday evening.
“How ironic that the most noble thing that Dr. King is remembered for is his pursuit to engage all people, regardless of ethnicity, religion, political position and economic status,” said McCall as he addressed the crowd in the community center. “While we are here today, we are right on the cutting edge to do something he lived and died for.”
McCall said students at WSU, or any higher-education establishment, can make a difference.
“I would say that that they have the opportunity to do what others outside of the educational institution (can’t do) . . . to make a difference,” McCall said. “They can make a difference simply by standing up for what they believe. . . . Student protests are great.”
Sarah Arnold, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day chair at the Center for Diversity and Unity, created the signs held during the march. After the breakfast and speeches, about 30 community members and WSU students marched to the amphitheater on 25th Street to hear from Ron Deeter, an English professor at WSU.
Arnold said Monday wasn’t a day off, but a “day on.” She encouraged students to get involved with the week of service on campus and in Ogden’s community.
“Even though I’m not a minority in any sorts of the word, I feel supporting others and being a part of it has been really helpful,” Arnold said. “I really like to get involved with MLK because it’s a very good atmosphere to look forward to and to help create.”
Immediately after Arnold was hired earlier this month, she started planning the weeklong event with the assistance of Adrienne Andrews, the coordinator for the Center for Diversity and Unity. Arnold said she felt like this new position has helped her understand others better and have more ties with people.
Deeter said he tried to capture King’s speaking patterns and, instead of writing an essay-style speech, opted for a prose poem.
“What I was feeling was, in a degree, something of a time-warp. In other words, I felt myself back in his times, and tried to speak in a manner and tone of voice that was like what his times spoke in,” Deeter said, “. . . which was actually kind of amplified. We didn’t have a PA system, and so I had to speak loud.”
In his speech, Deeter used rhetorical strategies that King used. He also alluded to different time periods and influential people throughout time who inspired King and himself.
“Why should I talk about him when he does it so well? And then I make it kind of biblical. His own language was biblical,” Deeter said. “So what I hoped was that some people in the audience would know what I was alluding to. I also knew that there would be a good number of young people there, and I thought, if they don’t know what I’m talking about, then I just want them to feel it. And so I trusted that if I could do it well enough, they’d feel the meaning of Martin Luther King more than just consciously understanding it.”