Remembering Dr. King

Symbolic march across campus ends with keynote speaker Chuck D.

By Claire Fodell | 1/22/14 2:06am


Chuck D and co-chairs Bobby Springer and Kin Ma and many others participate in the silent march as a part of Grand Valley State University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day events on Monday, January 20, 2014. GVL / Robert Mathews

This is the second consecutive year that classes were canceled at Grand Valley State University in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. On their day off, many GVSU students took the time to commemorate and remember the legacy of King with the annual silent march and keynote speaker.

More than 100 members of the GVSU community gathered Monday in front of Zumberge Hall for the march, which symbolizes the march on Washington, D.C. in August 1963 when King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Sabrina Elzinga, a sophomore at GVSU, was glad to take time out of her day for the walk and was hoping for a very emotional experience.

“I guess I expect the mood to kind of change,” Elzinga said before the walk. “I just think it will be a great time of reflection.”

The march moved swiftly and silently from the south side of campus, across the Little Mackinac bridge, up the hill past Fresh foods and across the pathway between Mackinac and Manitou halls.

It eventually made its way back to the Kirkhof Center where it finished in the Grand River Room. However, the celebration was only beginning.

Shortly after, a large crowd filtered inside the room to listen to Chuck D., legendary rapper and creator of the group Public Enemy. As the crowd entered, the room was filled with the voices of the Fisk Jubilee Singers from Fisk University.

Before Chuck D. spoke, President Thomas Haas explained what kind of impact he believes King had on the people of his time as well as the people of today.

“He gave people a sense of purpose,” Haas said. “A conviction for a just cause, and I think that people showed up there on those steps of the Lincoln Memorial not for Dr. King, but for themselves as you are showing up here today, for yourself.”

Chuck D. then emphasized the importance of getting and using a college degree and traveling the world.

“It’s not important how you look like on the outside; it’s your insides, and to design your insides it takes a lot of work,” he said. “Knowledge, wisdom and understanding does not come in a microwave.”

Chuck D. also mentioned the importance of remaining cautious of giving in to new technologies.

“They are an unbelievable tool, but if you ain’t smarter than your smartphone, you’ve lost,” he said. “Don’t be crippled by social media to not learn anything else on the Internet other than social media and taking 7,000 selfies of yourself.”

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