The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Ceremony was held the evening of Jan. 16 at Lane’s downtown campus. The event was sponsored by Lane’s Black Student Union and Lane Community College. This was the 31st year that the celebration was held, occurring every year since Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a federal holiday. Shawn Goddard, BSU President and The Associated Students of Lane Community College Senator, explained that this year’s celebration was about honoring the spirit and message of Martin Luther King Jr. through unity and art.
The event was preceded by a light snack buffet and socializing. Mark Harris, BSU faculty advisor, played guitar and led the audience in a sing-along style through a verse from “Lift Every Voice and Sing” or “The Black National Anthem” to kick off the celebration.
The BSU honored two Lane students with awards for community activism. Robert Kirkpatrick, ASLCC President, presented Renata M. Perez, ASLCC Multicultural Coordinator, with the ASLCC Award for Community Excellence.
“I don’t do it to get something back. I just always like to give and help our community,” Perez said about her efforts after being presented with the award.
Lane President Mary Spilde presented Anna Sablan, former ASLCC Senator, with the BSU’s Mattie Reynolds Award.
“His dream was not fully accomplished in his lifetime, but the fact that it still continues shows how what he believed in set in the hearts who lived with him, and in the generations of those that live through him, and those people who feel the same way,” Sablan said regarding Martin Luther King Jr.’s message and its value today.
The majority of the celebration was a performance from the Brooklyn, New York, based duo, Climbing Poetree. Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman performed spoken word with musical and visual accompaniment. The visuals included images of African-American art, slideshows of social justice in action, and a video about the epidemic in America of police violence in Black communities.
Climbing Poetree is a grassroots organizing, social justice, dual-voice spoken word duo that has been performing for 13 years. Ending their 2016 tour, they performed at Standing Rock during the NoDAPL protest.
Many themes were touched upon throughout the night, including voice, power and love.
“He very much used his voice to help activate people, which is a legacy and a lineage that Alixa and I walk in,” Penniman said about evoking the message of Dr. King to motivate people to create change.
Goddard offered final remarks for the evening, bringing the event to a close with a request that the audience partake in a moment of silence to contemplate the ideas expressed throughout the evening, rather than departing with boisterous applause.