Eastern honors MLK with Day of Service


Rob Le Cates

Cameron Brown, a junior physical science major, ties blankets with fellow members of Alpha Phi Sorority during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Monday afternoon in the University Ballroom. Brown said she thinks it is important to give back to the community.

Adriana Hernadez-Santana, Junior Feature Editor

The Martin Luther King Jr. University Union hosted a presentation and blanket making event in the University Union Ballroom to learn about the history of the Civil Rights Movement while giving back to the community.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a minister and activist, worked relentlessly throughout the 1950’s to help spread the misconduct of racial segregation and misconduct towards African Americans. He promoted peaceful protests, and is most famously known for his “I have a Dream” speech in 1963.

In honor of his work, Eastern hosted the MLK Jr. Day of Service.

To open the event, Dr. Shannon Maldonado, Director of Interdisciplinary Studies, shared her presentation titled, “The Interdisciplinarity of the Civil Rights Movement.”

Within her presentation, she spoke about consistent themes throughout the Civil Rights Movement, as well as how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. contributed to the overall cause.

She first explained how interdisciplinary helps us to better understand other stems and how they work.

“Everything that we do, our existence, our lives, our world that we live in is governed in some way by a system,” Maldonado said.

From left, members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Kymoni Dixon, a senior exercise science major, D’Ajané Jackson, a junior psychology major, and Aryanna Southworth, a senior exercise science major, finish tying a blanket during during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Monday afternoon in the University Ballroom. James said she feels service is important to her. “[We need to] come together as a community especially on a campus to do service projects and connect with the community,” Aaliyah James, a senior management major said. (Rob Le Cates)

She proceeded on to talk about how interdisciplinary issues can work into the world we currently live in and how they need to be regulated for our new times.

“So when the system breaks down issues and our problems arise, interdisciplinary definitely works to help address complex issues and problems and gives us a better understanding of how we can best solve complex problems,” Maldonado said.

She then moved onto the Civil Rights movement, which in her words, was a social plan preliminary made of African Americans and their allies. The goal was to earn basic rights for African Americans.

The movement began in the 1930’s and ended around 1960 after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tenn.

After his death, the Chicago Freedom Movement came through. This was to stop segregation in different living areas. African Americans were not being given equal opportunity in their housing areas, and a lot of riots occurred.

Years of injustice and mistreatment eventually led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited any type of public discrimination, including work, school integration, and other basic rights.

A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Nicholas Trimble, a senior psychology major ties fringe together for the last side of a blanket during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Monday afternoon in the University Ballroom. (Rob Le Cates)

None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for Martin Luther King Jr. and his demand for equal rights. Even though his assassination was done as a hate crime, it did not go unnoticed. His killing began the desire for more freedom, more basic rights, and equality for all.

Following  Maldonado’s presentation was the blanket activity. Fraternities, sororities, and students alike joined forces to help create as many tie blankets as they could.

Students would first pick the type of fabric they would like to use,then they would take it to their table and cut out the corners of the blankets. After creating line-like cuts, the tassels were tied together and the blanket was complete.

According to Crystal Brown, the associate director of leadership and engagement, all of these blankets created today will be donated at the end of the year to One-Stop Community Christmas, a program that serves seven eastern central Illinois communities.

“Each December, we serve about 1000 families, and this year we had about 2900 kids. We really just want to make December brighter and easier for the families,” Brown said.

Funding for all the materials come from the department’s budget.

“That’s part of our goal for the year, it’s to find programs for our students to be able to make a difference and get back on campus and off campus and the community,” Brown said.

Aside from giving them gifts, One-Stop will also accept donations such as cleaning supplies, toiletry items, paper books and more.


Adriana Hernandez-Santana can be reached at 581-2182 or at [email protected].