Students, faculty, staff and members of the community of Anderson gathered on Monday morning to celebrate the 11th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration on campus.
The day began at “The Gathering” in Miller Chapel where director of the Cultural Resource Center Mike Thigpen introduced the theme and the importance of the day.
In the chapel, attendees watched a video of King’s last speech on April 3, 1968 before he was killed the next day on April 4. His last speech foreshadowed what was to come, but his faith and desire to see change in the world never wavered.
The theme for AU’s celebration this year was “The Dream Still Matters.” Thigpen explained that when they were deciding what the theme would be for this year, they wanted to make sure the students considered that even though King’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech” happened over 50 years ago, it still matters today.
He wanted everyone to consider questions like “What is my responsibility today?” and to think about what they can do to be apart of King’s legacy even today.
After the introduction in Miller Chapel, the next step was to “Get on the Bus.” Everyone in attendance rode the buses provided to Paramount Theater where students would participate in the 40th Annual City-Wide Celebration of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
The theme of the city’s celebration was “Making Justice a Reality for All.” The ceremony began with AU students and Anderson Jr. High School Color Guard carrying and presenting flags from different countries.
AU’s Gospel Choir and the Anderson Community Choir opened the ceremony with two songs, followed by speeches by a few guest speakers.
The main speaker for the ceremony was Derick Grant, a basketball player who played for the Harlem Globetrotters for 8 years. He is the owner of Derick Grant Basketball Skill Development, where he works with basketball players in elementary school all the way up to the NBA level. He and his wife Carly live in Anderson with their two children.
It is Grant’s lifelong goal to share the gospel and serve others, and he shared that message of hope during the ceremony. One of the main points of his message was that “even if someone wrongs you, it is our job to shower them with love just as Jesus did.”
Mayor of Anderson Thomas J. Broderick, Jr. shared remarks along with representatives and senators of Indiana where they touched on the importance of King’s legacy and how it can be put into place today.
The ceremony ended with the choirs singing a song called “I Need You to Survive.” Everyone in the audience joined in as the whole auditorium sang the words, “You are important to me; I need you to survive.”
After the celebration in Paramount Theater, the attendees had the option to march back to Reardon Auditorium on campus. The group marched from the theater, down the Eighth Street bridge to Reardon Auditorium carrying the countries’ flags high.
Monday’s celebration ended with forums held in Hartung Hall of various topics including “The Miseducation of Generations,” “The Impact of Media and Microaggressions,” and “Is Justice an Urgency?” There was also a service project option where attendees were able to serve somewhere in the Anderson community including the Christian Center and Willow Place.
Junior Christian Ministries major Jake Jordan said that his favorite part of the day was the march because of the community aspect it brings.
“The march is a little bit like what the diversity and community will be like in the kingdom of God someday, and I like that,” Jordan said. “It’s fun to see everyone come out.”
He also said that he would encourage others to go in the future, because it’s a very formative experience.
“I’m not really all that familiar with the Civil Rights Movement and other things, so it’s good to learn more about the movement and equality, because a lot of inequality is subtle.” Jordan said.
On Tuesday during regular chapel time, the celebration continued with a chapel titled, “Is Hope a Reality?” where Derick Grant came back to speak to campus.