On Aug. 28, 1963, the movement toward equality in jobs, housing, schools and general purposes of freedom landed on the steps of Washington D.C. Now, 50 years later, Weber State University commemorated the purposes and progress of the civil rights movement.
In the sunshine, just steps in front of the Moench statue on campus, the Center for Diversity and Unity honored the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington D.C. and Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful “I Have a Dream” speech Wednesday morning. King’s speech also played on a 17-minute loop in the Shepherd Union Building’s Wildcat Theater.
Students walking by paused to listen to the words of WSU President Chuck Wight, student senator Jeffrey Henry and Amir Jackson, a psychology senior and founder of a local nonprofit organization. Detorea Oliver, a community member and vocalist, sang in between speakers with some members of the audience chiming in.
During his speech, Wight asked members of the audience as well as the student body to join him in communicating the urgency of King’s dream.
“My dream, our dream, for Weber State University, is that it will become a place where people of color, where people of all colors, are able to stand together at the fountain of knowledge,” he said. “Because Weber State cannot be a great university until we are all gathered together in respectful conversations to learn from one another.”
Henry, the senator for African-American students, was the next to speak. He said that although some might think King’s speech cured America of racism, prejudice is still alive and well today. He continued that he believes everything King said in his speech is possible.
“I believe that someday, people of character will be judged by their contents, and not by the color of their skin, which so many times happens today,” he said. “Dr. King was about being human. Dr. King was about everybody being the same.”
Henry touched on humanism and cited the golden rule. He said he believes the basic element of who everybody is simply human.
“Regardless of where you come from, regardless of what group you’re affiliated with, we all share that commonality across the board,” he said. “And because of us being human, we should all treat each other the same.”
Jackson, Nurture the Creative Mind founder, concluded the event with his remarks. He began his speech with a tribute to King’s legacy and sacrifice. He said everyone must act today because tomorrow is uncertain.
“We must begin to act on which it is we speak of and believe in. Dr. King taught us to act,” Jackson said. “We have to love and understand that love is an action word. It is something you must actively choose to do.”
Carey Francis, the Black Scholars United club adviser, said a few members of the club attended the speeches.
“I told them that if they were in class, academic is first,” Francis said. “My thing with BSU is education first. With the education first, this will come — how to be a leader and how to dress to the success and how to speak.”
Adrienne Andrews, the assistant to the president for diversity, said this event and WSU is actively engaging King’s dream in subtle and advert ways.
“There is a commitment to have that relationship that supports, that encourages, that sustains, that develops, because that’s what makes the dream a reality,” she said. “I’m thrilled to be a part of Weber State University, where the commitment to Dr. King’s dream and to the dreams of all the people who marched on Washington are being realized.”