Shippensburg University hosted its 26th annual MLK March for Humanity on Jan. 30 in the Ceddia Union Building. The theme was D.R.E.A.M.: Develop, Realize, Aspire and Motivate.
The event was followed by a reenactment of the march that took place in Washington, D.C.
Students, faculty, staff and community members took part in the march around campus, bearing signs and banners representing the organizations that were a part of the ceremony. Participants followed the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech that was playing from the university police car that was leading the march.
Lavell Simpkins, president of the African American Organization, opened the event. Interim President George “Jody” Harpster then gave a short speech, which was followed by performances by SU’s Harmonic Voices of Truth and SU’s Virtue Heritage Dance Company.
After both performances, the keynote speaker for the event, Sharnine Herbert, associate professor of human communication studies and ethnic studies at SU, took the podium. Herbert broke from traditional speech format and engaged students in a “call-and-respond” exercise, which she believed was necessary.
“You can get motivation from the smallest thing, like listening to your favorite tune. King got people to participate by singing gospel songs, by singing traditional hymns and “negro spirituals,” as what they were called at the time and that allowed them to endure a lot of the pressures that they had or a lot of the violence that even came against them,” Herbert said. “That was a unifying agent, to have those songs.”
Herbert went on to say how honored she was to be asked to speak at this event and also how important this was.
“This is a big deal,” she said. “Somehow, somewhere I inspired someone in the area of thinking, dreaming and living toward those principles Dr. King laid out for us.”
Following Herbert’s speech, five people and one fraternity received the prestigious Humanitarian Award that is given out each year.
The recipients of this award were Christopher Leguizamon, Student Senate representative for Multicultural Student Affairs and Latino Student Organization member; Allison Watts, associate professor in management and advisor for the national association of black accountants; Jaime R. Juarez, learning specialist in the learning center and academic coach for the academic success program; Paula Madey, director of the office of disability services; Sarah Stokely, dean of academic engagement and student support; and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Xi Lambda Chapter.
After the awards were handed out, eight members of the SU family, as well as a member from Vision Quest Youth, took to the podium and shared their stories as to why they were marching for MLK. Those members were Seth Baker, a PEERS Mentor; Keyshaun Fitzgerald, an ASP Student; Romar Mayne, member of Phi Sigma Kappa; Kervince Michel, member of Phi Beta Sigma; a member of Vision Quest Youth; Sharicka Peters and Geneieve Casaceli, interns at the Women’s Center; Charles Blackwell, member of Kappa Alpha Psi; and Nicholas Johnson, member of Alpha Phi Alpha and an MSA Student Senate Representative.