‘An unfinished journey’

Aman Ali

KSU holds 4th annual MLK celebration

Chattering in the ballroom around 9 a.m. quickly died down yesterday when gospel band Sacred Voices’ sound check indicated the Fourth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration had begun.

Heads turned to center stage when event emcees Gwen Jimmere, a junior communications major, and Kevin Clark, a sophomore magazine journalism major, welcomed the audience to the event. Clark is also a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater and current editor of Uhuru magazine.

Provost Paul Gaston was the first to speak and explained the theme of this year’s celebration – an “unfinished journey.”

“We’ve traveled so many miles already,” Gaston explained, regarding societal progress since the death of Martin Luther King Jr., “but our theme suggests that so many miles lay ahead.”

Gaston added diversity is the key to an “effective education,” and events like these celebrate Kent State’s commitment to it.

The task force committee members who organized the celebration invited northeast Ohio high schools to participate in the morning events.

Steve Michael, vice provost for diversity and academic initiatives and task force chair for the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, explained the event benefits the greater community in general.

“The goal for the celebration is for Kent State to involve the community and schools,” Michael said. “We wanted to expand educational outreach to neighboring schools because this event has celebratory and educational aspects that can benefit them.”

Celebratory highlights from the morning included a high school poetry competition involving cash prizes for the top three winners. The eight entrants were required to present an original, unpublished poem on the event’s theme of an “unfinished journey.”

Judges rewarded Amber Hunter from Kent Roosevelt High School with a third-place $75 prize, Chanice Jones from Streetsboro High School with a second-place $100 prize and Braheem Wahid, also from Kent Roosevelt, with a first-place $150 prize.

After the poetry readings, a group of students from Souers Middle School in Canton performed a spoken word presentation. The routine highlighted African-American struggles since the time of slavery. To illustrate the history, students dressed in costumes ranging from a slave in shackles, to a basketball player, to a surgeon. Marching in place, the students chanted “We keep coming!” as the performance’s chorus to emphasize African-American progress.

Other performances in the morning included singing by the Firestone High School Gospel Choir from Akron, dance routines from Kent State’s drill team and individual poetry and dance routines from select Kent State students.

Vice provost Michael explained this year’s “unfinished journey” theme upholds Kent State’s commitment to education.

“This is what the university is all about,” Michael said. “Every student that graduates is one more solution towards the unfinished journey we’ve been discussing.”

Contact student affairs reporter Aman Ali at [email protected].