MLK Jr. celebration draws crowd, prominent speaker

More than 200 students from high schools across Northeast Ohio gathered at Kent State this morning to participate in the Fifth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

The event, titled “Toward the Dream,” was held in the Student Center Ballroom and had the largest attendance in its five-year history.

The program consisted of student art, essay and poetry competitions that commemorated King and his legacy. Awards for each competition were given in three categories: Presidential (first place), Provost (second place) and Community (third place).

Yolanda Hightower, a senior at Cleveland School of the Arts, won the Presidential Award in the art competition for her painting of King.

Hightower was proud to be a part of the event.

“This program is needed because a lot of people don’t know the truth about black history,” Hightower said.

Later in the day, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones spoke in the Ballroom under the theme “Toward the Future.”

Jones’ message was built around Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life,” which King said were length, breadth and height.

Through increasing volume, fast speech and humor, Jones kept the audience’s attention as she asked students to discover what they’d do best with their lives.

She referenced poetic moments in history throughout her speech, especially one King delivered in 1956 called “Facing the Challenge of a New Age.”

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets as Michelangelo painted,” Jones recalled King’s message.

A fifth-term congresswoman, Jones touched politics only briefly at the beginning of her speech when she mentioned May 4 and criticized the war in Iraq.

“We don’t need a surge in troops, we need a surge in truth,” she said.

Jones asked students to use the power of voting to achieve change.

After her speech, the audience gave Jones a standing ovation.

Contact ethnic affairs reporter Alexia Harris at [email protected]

Contact minority affairs reporter Steve Bushong at [email protected]