CSUF honors legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with weeklong celebration

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(Gabe Gandara / Daily Titan)

Coinciding with the first week of the spring semester, the Cal State Fullerton community honored civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. with a weeklong commemoration filled with events.

“MLK Week 2018” was hosted by the African American Resource Center, Associated Students, Inc., Black Student Union and Student Life and Leadership.

On Tuesday, students and faculty gathered in the Quad to write their dreams on the cement with chalk. Positive affirmations such as “unity” and “you are not alone” were laid across the ground as the campus community took time to reflect on King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

“My dream is that one day I can live in an America where everyone is seen for their value as a human being, and that people are really valued for who they are,” said senior human services major Shannon Carter.

Carter appreciated seeing the campus come together to recognize King’s accomplishments and his devotion to diversity and inclusion.

“The week itself has a lot of importance to me. I’m really glad that my campus is recognizing someone like MLK, someone who has done so much for African-Americans, of which I am,” Carter said.

(Gabe Gandara / Daily Titan)

Other events included a lecture on King’s legacy by associate professor of African American Studies Tyler Parry and a screening of the 2014 film, “Selma” which highlights King’s efforts to end racial discrimination and secure equal voting rights.

The week concluded with a spoken word event Friday in the Titan Student Union Underground Pub with readings by African American Studies associate professor Natalie Graham and CSUF student Amber Lambert.

Graham performed Morgan Parker’s “The President Has Never Said the Word ‘Black,’” a critical piece on former President Barack Obama, as well as a poem of her own.

“I think when you look at spoken word you have to look at the cultural significance, particularly within the black community. It truly is an art form that reaches a large variety of audiences,” said African American Resource Center graduate assistant, Erica Claybrook.

Claybrook saw the week as a spotlight for King’s work and his leadership in the civil rights movement, illustrating the true reach of his impact on society.

“It’s nice to see that Cal State Fullerton is an advocate for diversity, education, and campus unity and representation of all students on campus,” said senior advertising major and African American Resource Center marketing lead, Yaa Asantewaa Faraji.

CSUF’s new president, Fram Virjee attended events throughout the week.

Lambert, African American Resource Center’s social justice lead, recalled being taken aback by Virjee’s openness when she met him on the first day of the semester, having pegged him as a professor during their conversation before he introduced himself as the president.

“He’s just himself and he’s always willing to come talk to you and take that extra moment. To me, it’s something I’d never seen before on a university campus,” Lambert said.

Almost brought to tears from their encounter, Lambert said she appreciated Virjee’s efforts to reach out to students.

“I hope these events continue and I hope he continues to attend them because it really shows their importance,” Lambert said.

As January comes to a close the African American Resource Center is gearing up for its events celebrating Black History Month in February.

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