Candlelight Vigil Honors Civil Rights
Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013
University students participate in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Vigil, sponsored by the Black Student Union in the TSC Ballroom on Wednesday. ( Delayne Locke photo from the USU Statesman Online)
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Candlelight Vigil Honors Civil Rights
Set to Sam Cooke’s 1960s song, “It’s Been A Long Time Coming,” images of American civil rights history faded on and off the projection screen in the TSC Ballroom on Wednesday afternoon [Jan. 16].
Shortly after, students gathered across the room in a candlelight vigil remembering the life and ideas of Martin Luther King Jr.
With Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, ASUSU and Black Student Union leaders want to help students realize the importance of King’s civil rights work.
“Obviously it’s just important for the students to realize the importance of the matter,” said Luke Ensign, Student Traditions Activities and Arts Board arts and lectures director.
Kathy Washington, president of BSU, said the vigil is held annually so students can feel a sense of caring for King’s work.
“We don’t necessarily dwell on the past, but it’s always good to look at what you’ve come from and where you are now,” Washington said.
ASUSU and the BSU worked together to schedule the vigil in the same location immediately following Preacher Moss’ common hour speech, “The End of Racism.”
“We felt like with his speech, it could kind of tie in to where we are now, where we stand at this point in our lives and our culture,” Washington said.
Storm Cisco, BSU historian, gave a speech as part of the ceremony.
“Martin Luther King wanted the world to be better for Americans in 1963,” Cisco said on stage. “Not only did he want it better for Americans, he wanted it better for African-Americans. He wanted the people at the time to make the world better.”
Cisco, who is half black, said it’s nice to be a part of the vigil’s atmosphere.
“As long as we remember, we’ll always do better,” Cisco said after the event.
T.J. Pratt, a senior majoring in music, said it is important for USU students to remember and be aware of what King did for the human rights movement.
“Today a kid in Spanish class said, ‘Oh, we get the day off on Monday because it’s President’s Day,’” Pratt said. “Obviously in this culture, people really don’t know and it’s just sad the fact that most people that know are black or ethnic descent. So it’s just trying to figure out on a deeper level, how does Martin Luther King apply to the culture here in Utah specifically and to every single student at Utah State?”
Washington, a Las Vegas native, said there have been many experiences at USU when a classmate has said or done something racist and hasn’t realized.
“It is very subtle and it’s not really just because people don’t know that that’s what it is and they’re not quite sure that the things that they say,” Washington said. “We feel like some things that are said on a daily basis or in the classroom setting can be very offensive and come off that way.”
Pratt, who is from Harlem, N.Y., said it was difficult to adjust to life at USU.
“I mean, why is it that when you say ‘black people’ you either think BSU or you think, you know, Marcel Davis, TeNale Roland, Chuckie Keeton,” Pratt said. “It is tough. It is culture shock, but you stick through it.
“It’s just sad there are a lot of people in Utah who don’t get out of Utah,” he said. “Those are the ones that are usually asking the questions this time of year.”