Students share thoughts on MLK Jr. Day

Hannah Shillo, Associate News Editor

Every third Monday of January, the country celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and honors the legacy he left behind when he was assassinated in 1968.

King Jr. would have been 91 on Jan. 15 and was known for his contribution to the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Some Eastern students think that while King did a lot of work for our country, he is still not talked about enough today.

Hope Porter, a sophomore special education major, said she wishes she would have been taught more about King Jr. when she was in grade school.

“I always just think of ‘I Have A Dream’ and I know that’s what everybody says but I feel like that’s the only thing that we were really taught in school that was repetitive,” Porter said. “It’s kind of sad; we have this whole day to celebrate something that somebody did, and most people probably can’t even tell you what it’s for.” 

Sydney Dominguez, a sophomore history major, said students should be taught more on the history of King Jr. so they know why there is a holiday dedicated to him.

“I took more in-depth history classes because I am a history major and I have also taken a black history class … so I do know a little bit more about him more than the average student, but that’s because of my major,” Dominguez said. 

Cynthia Belony, a sophomore pre-nursing major, said she remembers King Jr. for breaking down the barriers for people her age. 

“Now we don’t have to worry about, ‘Oh we can only go into an only white school or go to only whites fountain,’ so it just shows that we can all be friends no matter what skin color or what age,” Belony said.

Belony said her plans for the holiday included attending the annual Alpha Phi Alpha candlelight vigil walk and celebration. 

Dominguez said she planned on participating in the service day hosted by the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism to honor King Jr. and his legacy.

Like King Jr., Dominguez believes that people should not be judged based on the color of their skin.

“We all need to be treated equally no matter our gender, our sexuality (or) our race,” Dominguez said. “We should judge (people) based upon their characters and their beliefs rather than where they came from and I just feel like I really hope there is going to be a major change.”

If King Jr. were still alive today, Dominguez said she thinks he would be disappointed with where society is regarding racial issues.

“This is not a world that I want to live in,” Dominguez said. “I just want more acceptance; we just really need to work on that. Some people are just not accepting of change, which is holding us back on something that could brighten everybody’s future.” 

Sihile Mwalongo, a sophomore economics major, said there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to continue King Jr.’s legacy.

“I think we’ve made strides forward and obviously we’ve integrated and that’s been a big thing, but I feel like we can’t stay comfortable with where we are now,” Mwalongo said. “As a community, we need to be able to be thankful for the steps that people used to make in the 60s and stuff and obviously take advantage of our roles but also make seats for ourselves.”

Students are the key to moving forward and changing the issues the country faces today, Mwalongo said.

“If there’s issues going on, we need to voice that out,” she said. “We can’t be stagnant in what’s going on because obviously there’s still problems and we still want to make seats for ourselves at the table.”

Porter said making sure students know about King and the work he did for equal rights was an essential part of everyone treating each other fairly.

“At the end of the day, we’re all people,” Porter said. “We’re all different, we all have rights, we all matter, so why should it matter if there’s one minor difference between me and somebody else who has a different skin color than I do? It shouldn’t matter; we’re all people.”

Hannah Shillo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]