Ferris State University’s efforts to recognize the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. is just one reason junior Ronny Latimore is proud to be a student here.
Latimore, a Television and Digital Media Production and Public Relations major from Saginaw, said the university’s “We Are” celebration this week is in line with its mission to make all students welcome.
“It brings different cultures together,” he said. “When we become one, we can understand.”
Latimore joined more than 100 students, administrators, faculty and staff from Ferris as well as community residents of all ages and races who braved Monday’s frigid temperatures to participate in the MLK Freedom March across campus.
Dave Hojnacki, a resident of Luther, traveled to Big Rapids for the march for the second consecutive year. He has no association with Ferris – “other than being a hockey fan” and, therefore, a season-ticket holder for Bulldog hockey games – but said participating in the march makes him “feel good.”
“I believe it’s my obligation to be here,” Hojnacki said.
Classes were canceled in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but students left the warmth of their residence halls and off-campus apartments to participate.
“This is a day on, not a day off,” said Michael Wade, assistant director of the university’s Office of Multicultural Student Services who also serves as co-chair of the event’s planning committee.
Ferris student-volunteers also served lunch Monday to community members in need during the MLK Soup Kitchen, and university and community groups participated in an MLK Student Tribute later that evening in the Rankin Student Center Dome Room.
The celebration, which also is sponsored by the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, Student Government and Entertainment Unlimited, includes several events and initiatives to commemorate the late activist’s work.
Tuesday’s events include “The Battle Continues: Contemporary Racist Material” from noon to 5 p.m. at the Jim Crow Museum and the Student Government-hosted symposium “Four More Years … A Nation Divided or Together?” at 7 p.m. in the Rankin Student Center Dome Room.
The MLK Celebration wraps up Wednesday with “Jim Crow Segregation: The Ripple Effect” from noon to 5 p.m. at the museum and “Race Off with Teja Arboleda” at 7 p.m. in Williams Auditorium. The presentation by Arboleda, an expert on race and culture, is a campus five-star event.
Students also will have the opportunity to sign a “We Are” banner from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in the IRC Connector.
The MLK celebration has been a signature event of Ferris’ OMSS since 1987. Ferris marks Martin Luther King Day, held annually on the third Monday of January.
Freshman Sydney Ditlow didn’t hesitate when she heard about the opportunity to volunteer for the university’s celebration honoring King.
“He was an amazing person,” said Ditlow, an Accounting/Finance major from White Cloud. “This is a chance to be involved in something bigger than ourselves.”
Last updated: 08-15-2013