Martin Luther King Jr. in the famous "March on Washington" protest. Many still feel his words are relevant today (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)
Martin Luther King Jr. in the famous “March on Washington” protest. Many still feel his words are relevant today. (Source: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

A small number of students gathered yesterday morning in the Bell Tower plaza to hear the words of Martin Luther King Jr. spoken half a century earlier.

Fifty-one years ago, over 250,000 protestors gathered in Washington D.C. to hear Martin Luther King Jr. utter the immortal words, “I have a dream.”

Given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the “I have a dream,” speech would become a defining moment of the civil rights movement.

In one of his most famous lines, King said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

The event also included singing from community members and speeches from WSUSA Senate president Jeff Henry and Amir Jackson, president of Nurture the Creative Mind.

After the showing in the Bell Tower plaza, King’s speech was presented in the Wildcat Theatre in the Shepherd Union building, looping every 20 minutes.

The diversity board has been commemorating this event annually to pay tribute to King’s speech, according to Kelsey Northrop, a junior at WSU who serves as the Martin Luther King Day of Service chair on Weber State’s Diversity and Unity Board.

Teresa Holt, WSU’s diversity program coordinator, said they always want to present different events like this year-round.

“Luckily the anniversary of (King’s) speech is always during the first couple weeks of school,” Holt said. “We try to do that to commemorate it.”

Northrop, who is also the vice president of Black Scholars United at WSU, hopes students will be grateful for historical figures like King that made the world what it is today.

Northrop’s heritage is tied closely to the civil rights movement and she grew up hearing stories about it from her family.

“I feel very passionate about the Martin Luther King era, and everything he brought to pass,” Northrop said.

While some might say the civil rights movement is a thing of the past, Northrop still feels the speech is just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

“For the most part I think that it’s about being more accepting,” Northrop said.

She added that all could learn something from King’s example of accepting others, even 50 years later.

King spoke of a day when freedom would ring throughout America, when all might accept others as their equals, “ . . .when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”

Holt agreed the speech is just as relevant in today’s world as half a century ago when it was given.

“We want to make sure students hear that speech and listen to its meaning,” Holt said. “Hopefully it makes an impact somewhat in their lives to where they can do a call to action and create a difference in the world.”

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