CSULB Celebrates King’s birthday

More than 250 students, faculty, staff and community members packed the Beach Auditorium Thursday, Jan.13 to celebrate what would have been the 78th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The ethnicity and generational diversity on display was the highlight for many in the audience, who had to the privilege of meeting and listening to long time civil rights activist, Evelyn D. Knight, who was with Dr. King during the pivotal Selma to Montgomery voting rights march.

Knight said it was great to be back caring and sharing and that her march with Dr. King was the highlight of her life.

“One of the things that came about because of those marches and protests is that people became less afraid to stand up for themselves, Knight said. But the struggle is not over. “We must continue the struggle” she said.

Knight is a descendant of the people aboard the last slave ship that illegally landed in the United States in 1860- the Clotilda- who established AfricaTown near Mobile, Ala.

James Manseau Sauceda, director of the California State University, Long Beach Multicultural Center, gave a presentation on the importance of “The Drum Major Instinct,” one of King’s famous speeches, delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in 1968.

“We need to drum ourselves into creating a community out of diversity, Sauceda said. We need to be drumming for justice, peace and righteousness. Be first to love, be first in generosity, be first in moral excellence.”

Senior black studies major Chancelor Daniel said he thought it was a very positive event, “especially seeing all the diversity in ethnicities and age groups throughout the audience.”

Valerie Bordeaux, director of University Outreach & School Relations and co-chair of the event, along with Marie Burks of Veteran Services, said it is important to bring young kids to the event each year so they can learn about Dr. King and learn about service.

This year students from Cabrillo High and Hill Middle School were invited to participate in the celebration.

Phillip Humphreys, director of the CSULB Upward Bound program, said the children need to learn more about Dr. King.

“For a lot of young people, all they know about Dr. King is the “I Have a Dream” speech. We are here trying to do our part to continue his message of social justice and service so they get a better picture of the man’s true legacy,” Humphreys said.

Freshman biology major Ravutl Pum said he just happened to be wandering by and decided to join the celebration.

“It was great. I learned a lot about history and some very interesting facts about the Civil Rights Movement,” Pum said. “I’m glad I happened to come this way”.

Betty Harris, administrative services manager, gave a stirring rendition of “Lift Every Voice,” the black national anthem. The CSULB Gospel Choir and the CSULB spoken word slam team, also performed.

This was the 8th annual MLK celebration, and Bordeaux said she still has big goals.

“We started out on the fifth floor of the library, then moved to the informal lounge in the USU. Our goal is to fill The Walter Pyramid one day. It’s a labor of love to do this,” Bordeaux said.

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