Nearly 47 years after his death, Martin Luther King Jr. was remembered at Ohio State for his support of nonviolent expression and the changes he helped bring about during the Civil Rights movement.
About 25 students gathered at the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a march of remembrance.
Participants marched to the Ohio Union, where university buses transported them to the King Arts Complex, a cultural and educational center located on the near east side of Columbus. From there, they marched to the Lincoln Theatre, a performing arts space situated in Columbus’ King-Lincoln district, and joined the City of Columbus’ Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Celebration event.
Kejuan Johnson, a fourth-year in operations management, is the president of the Ohio State chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., which sponsored the march — an annual tradition for the fraternity since the march’s debut in the early 2000s.
“It serves as an opportunity for us to come together as a community and celebrate the legacy of a person that has really paved the way for us,” Johnson said.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s role as a black rights activist has recently been chronicled in the historical drama film “Selma,” which is based on the 1965 voting rights marches that traveled from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, Ala.
“Selma,” released in December, has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.
Heightened racial tensions throughout the country in 2014 have also caused many people to draw parallels to the civil rights challenges faced by Martin Luther King Jr. in the ‘60s.
Vice President of Iota Phi Theta Michael Washington, a third-year in communication, said he is grateful for Martin Luther King Jr.’s ability to lead the black community toward change.
“Because of the pride that he was able to instill in African-Americans during his era that was able to affect change, he has paved the way for generations of African-Americans,” Washington said.
Washington added that Martin Luther King Jr. was able to accomplish strong groundwork for African-Americans, but the fraternity’s celebration extended past him.
“I also want to give credit to those who, aside from Martin Luther King, were able to build off of what he started,” he said. “If it wasn’t for those individuals, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Sarah Wilkes, a first-year in psychology, said today’s march made her feel like she was making a change to become a more active member of the black community.
“(Martin Luther King Jr.) is very iconic to me because he shows that with a little perseverance and a supporting team behind you, anything can change,” she said.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service preceded Monday’s march, and the event saw more than 1,000 volunteers, said Larry Williamson Jr., the director for the Hale Center.
The MLK Blood Drive also took place at the Hale Center on Monday morning, where 25 people donated blood.
In addition to Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. events, Rev. Al Sharpton spoke at the Ohio Union on Wednesday.
For more on Ohio State’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. day, watch the video below.