DEI Hosts MLK Extravaganza

Lauren Rathmell

As Kent State’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. came to end, the university’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion hosted a final event to honor the civil rights activist and his legacy.

The Martin Luther King Cultural Extravaganza took place Friday night in the Student Center Ballroom, showcasing the diverse culture and talents of Kent State students.

The theme of the night, “How Long, Not Long” comes from a speech given by King on March 25, 1965, after completing the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

“This is a tribute to Dr. King’s legacy and his commitment and contributions to our society,” said Avery Danage Jr., special assistant in the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership department.

Hosted by Aba Overcomer, a senior communication studies major, and Nyaruach Chuol, a senior sociology major, the event was open to any students who wished to perform and was free to attend.

Dance solos were performed by sophomore sociology major Iniah Dunbar and junior dance studies major Austin Coats, and senior theatre studies major Dara Sherman sang an original song entitled “My Reality,” which highlighted the struggles and worries that African-Americans face every day, accompanied on violin by sophomore teaching english as a second language major Denise Dupree.

“MLK Day is an important day and an important dream. A lot of the problems that people faced during the civil rights era, we are still facing today, and I think it’s important for us to stay unified with events like this, especially in a college setting, and not let our voices die,” said Latasha Head, a senior communications studies major.

The Voices of Testimony, a gospel choir of Kent State Students, also performed at the event, singing “Oh, Oh, Give Thanks,” composed by African-American composer Malcolm Williams.

The Barefeet Dance Tribe and Kent State African Ensemble paid tribute to Afro-Haitian traditions with dances from two different tribes. The evening ended with spoken word from senior pan-african studies Damien McClendon and performing artist Ephraim Nehemiah about the water crisis in Flint Michigan. McClendon also shared his poem called “Black Lives Matter; the Mix Tape.”

“This night (was) about togetherness and getting to have this conversation about where we go next,” Chuol said. “(It) was a great way to end the week of celebrating Martin Luther King (Jr.).”

Lauren Rathmell is the division of diversity, equity and inclusion reporter. Contact her at [email protected]