Students celebrate MLK with creative showcase

The event kicked off the Office of Inclusion and Engagement’s programming to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Sasha Edwards, ’20, performed an original poem, “We Are the Warning.” Photo by MacKenzie Van Meter, ‘22.

MacKenzie Van Meter

First-year student Lauryn McCray’s voice rang out in Stackhouse Theater as she sang, “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke.

“It’s been a long time coming / But I know a change is gonna come.”

Her performance was part of the kick-off event on Tuesday, Jan. 15, for the university’s two-week celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy. The Office of Inclusion and Engagement designed “Four Movements Toward Freedom: A Creative Showcase” to interweave King’s role in the civil rights movement with music, poetry, visual arts and theater.

Michael Hill, an Africana Studies professor, introduced the event, pointing to the role that art played in King’s work and continues to play in the movement toward justice.

Iman Messado, ‘19, performed an excerpt from Adrienne Kennedy’s one-act play, “Funnyhouse of a Negro.”

“I was really honored to join the showcase because the administration has made an effort to include students’ experiences and students’ viewpoints and their talents in celebration of MLK’s legacy,” she said. “In the spirit of what Professor Hill said, I wanted – both myself and to allow other people – to share their experience, their richness of talent that we saw tonight and be able to reflect on that in the coming weeks, and maybe even the whole term.”

Rose Hein, ‘22, assembled a series of documents and images from the special collections in Leyburn Library that illuminated the university’s ties to King. The display included a letter inviting for him to speak on campus in 1963, as well as his response.

Sasha Edwards, ‘20, performed an original poem, “We Are the Warning,” in which she saluted King’s dream as “driven by compassion and love for his people.”

“I really got a sense of the artistry and the creativity that was there along, kind of underlying, what MLK was doing,” Edwards said. “I love the performing arts, I love the visual arts and any way that we can break that out of this, like [Professor] Hill said, one corner to show that [art] is incorporated into social justice and the things that we do.”