Snow crunched underfoot as marchers followed the voice of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. into the winter air at Shippensburg University for the 27th March for Humanity.
Marchers exiting the Ceddia Union Building (CUB) were greeted by the sound of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech blaring from the speakers of a campus police vehicle, but King’s speech was not the only words of inspiration students heard that day.
The March for Humanity began Thursday, Jan. 29, with a rally in the CUB multipurpose room. Graduate student SimmieRay Dinkins kicked off the event with a round of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” While Dinkins’ voice rang out, people of every color stood in honor of the song.
In one sweep of the room, one could see Caucasians, African-Americans, Asians and Latinos. Each of them had their eyes pointed to the front, where speakers stood and rallied for civil justice.
“As you march, today, I hope you are inspired by the work of Dr. King,” SU President George “Jody” Harpster said.
Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA), the African American Organization (AAO) and Social Equity Office sponsored the event and helped bring in speakers, such as alumni Maria James-Thiaw, Kalid Mumin and Tyrome Smith.
James-Thiaw was one of the first undergraduates to leave SU with a minor in ethnic studies. Bouncing with excitement in the front of the room, James-Thiaw grabbed the microphone from the stand. “Feelin’ too good! I can’t just stand in one place,” James-Thiaw said.
She read a piece from one of her first assignments in the ethnic studies minor, called “The Road to the Promised Land.”
Provost Barbara Lyman spoke next and commented on the theme of this year’s march, “We Can Not Wait.”
Lyman elaborated on King’s urgency and his refusal to wait for change to happen. In her speech, Lyman commended the students on their passion for justice. She also reminded students of the value King placed in his education, encouraging SU students to do the same.
“Emulate Dr. King, the student,” Lyman said.
Taking a break from speeches, the rally turned to music to celebrate King.
Student Ja’kye Holmes led the Harmonic Voices of Truth in a series of songs. Once he adjusted the microphones just so and got his 14 singers in pitch, Holmes raised his arms to cue the soloist.
A blend of voices swelled together, creating a beat so catchy that nearly every person in the audience was nodding or tapping their feet.
Holmes’ hands came together with a loud clap, telling the singers to push their volume to the next level.
Once the singing subsided, the quiet was replaced by clapping from the audience.
Rasheed Dandridge, vice president of AAO, introduced alumnus Kalid Mumin as the next speaker.
Easily over 6 feet tall, Mumin approached the podium wearing rounded glasses and a perfectly straight bow tie.
Before becoming a superintendent in Reading, Pennsylvania, Mumin received his undergraduate from SU, where he was also captain of the men’s basketball team.
During his speech, Mumin told students about his journey from Philadelphia to Shippensburg.
Mumin never scored well on his SAT’s, but that did not stop him from success at SU. Diane Jefferson, director of MSA, was there for Mumin when he needed support and invited him to join the MSA family.
Years later, Mumin returned to see what the students of MSA, today, are doing for the university — and he could not be happier.
Mumin challenged students to be active participants in civic engagement and challenge the wrongs they see in life.
“It is a crime if you are not registered to vote,” Mumin said, to which the crowd responded with thunderous applause.
The rally shifted to an award ceremony, in which members of SU were recognized and given the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award. Recipients included staff, faculty and a student: Catherine “Catie” Clay, Scott Brown, Chad Bennett, Lori Stine, Jayleen Galarza, Kathryn Newton, Jody Conrad and Morgan Craig-Williams.
One of the original founders of the SU March for Humanity, Tyrome Smith, came to inspire students with a few words of his own.
“The only time you can make a change is when you put your hands on something,” Smith said, referring to the “Hands up, don’t shoot” saying that came from the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.
Smith started the March for Humanity when he and graduate student Crystal White were students at SU. Years later, students are still marching.
“The most powerful testament to what students can do is that 27 years later they’re still trying to own it, trying to understand what it means — the importance and the impact of it,” Smith said of the march.
On the other side of the multipurpose room wall, artist Victor Edun showcased his Martin Luther King Jr. “Augmented Reality” exhibit. The images depicted classic pictures of King’s face, but with a fresh twist added from Photoshop.
The art continued off the canvas on to the phone screen. Viewers in the gallery could download an app called, Aurasma, which showed videos from civil rights history — bringing the pieces to life.
“I was inspired to do this in such a way that it was interactive. You’re not just looking at some still image,” Edun said.
Edun received his undergraduate degree in graphic design from SU and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in management information systems.
“I realized there was a need to inspire young ones and have them realize how far we’ve come in terms of racial integration to become a better country,” Edun said. “But more than that they needed to learn the history, so they don’t take the blessings that they have for granted.”