Volunteers from Ogden and Weber State University came together to serve breakfast to community participants at the Annual Freedom March held at the Marshall White Community & Recreation Center.
Forrest Crawford, former WSU assistant to the president for diversity and professor of teacher education, said the event has evolved to become an anchor point for bringing Ogden’s diverse community together.
“Between the holiday and the important work the students do in the community, I think that those pieces come together, and in a way that really shows the importance of linking the university with the community,” Crawford said. “I think that we cannot pick a better moment, a better day, to really show the importance of that link.”
WSU’s diversity program coordinator for the Center for Diversity and Unity, Teresa Holt, said the event is held to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy by providing an opportunity for the community to come and not only enjoy a free breakfast, but to also listen to influential leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and learn more about how they can continue his legacy.
Angela Rowe, event coordinator for Marshall White Community Center, said the meal was donated and catered by Trinity Inc., which served more than 300 attendants eggs, sausage, coffee, juice, a pastry and a Granny B’s pink sugar cookie. Rowe also said that this year her staff decided to set up tabletops with literature and posters, so attendants could get a little more information about the significance of MLK Day and the Civil Rights Movement while they ate their breakfast.
“Martin Luther King Jr. Day is very important, because civil rights is something we are all affected by,” Rowe said. “We love having Weber State be a part of this event, because that is a group that is sometimes hard to reach and is so diverse. It is important to get all walks of life involved in the community, because we (Ogden) have such a large minority population, and the more we get involved, the more we get educated, and the people from Weber State helping to educate members here in the Ogden community — well, that’s great for everyone all around.”
Stanley Ellington, first vice president of the Ogden branch of the NAACP, said he always asks how relevant the event is to the community, because times are changing and he realizes that a lot of people don’t understand what transpired in the ’60s, or what King was talking about when he spoke of freedom and fairness for all and trying to eradicate hatred.
“Things appear to be OK or in place where people can get public access, but a lot of time that access is still not easily found or easily obtained, so that’s what we need to bring about to the community,” Ellington said. “That will be one of the questions that we ask when we do our march to the amphitheater and make a call to action. I would like for us to expand the celebration, because it is a day of service, and what I believe would be a little bit more beneficial to the community is to have a community project that we can all engage in.”
Ellington said he would like there to be a place where the community can come together to do a project and “hang their name to say, ‘This is what we’ve done to make a difference.'”
Darnel Haney, former WSU associate dean of students and a sociology professor, said one of the things the event does is broaden the peripheral vision of people who are not aware, especially young people.
“When you see the involvement of the total community in this endeavor, it makes our future looks brighter,” Haney said. “. . . Walk with your brother enriched by his color, for God shines in every hue,” he recited from his works in education. “That’s really what Dr. King was all about, so this is a reminder that enriches the very core of everyone who is involved.”
WSU President Charles Wight said he feels it is important for everyone to learn about King’s dream and to honor that dream by continuing the fight against inequality, hatred and injustice. “There’s still plenty of that left in the world, so we’ve a long way to go before we achieve our dream, and it is important to stop and take stock and remember Dr. King.”
After thanking the crowd for joining him in honoring a “great man with a great vision,” Wight discussed how the phrase “worthy of your dreams” is a way he describes how college helps to achieve the dream of a better life.
“A dream that Dr. Martin Luther King shared with us more than 50 years ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. launched a long march towards inequality and injustice, and this march still takes place today, figuratively and literally,” Wight said. “The best ways for us to be worthy of Dr. King’s dream is to keep the march on. Today as we finish this physical march, I urge each of you to march, and keep marching in your hearts and in your minds. Each of us must ask ourselves, ‘What is the best way that I can achieve change, peaceful change for equality and justice?’ Just keep marching.”