By Christelle Vereb, Staff Writer
Last Saturday Young Harris students and faculty gathered to give back to the community through Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
The event was planned by the campus S.E.R.V.E committee which stands for service, education, responsibility, voice and engagement. The S.E.R.V.E committee consists of the Office of Campus Activities, Religious Life and Bonner Leader programs.
“The purpose of Martin Luther King Day of Service is to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy of community change within our community,” said Rouseline Emmanuel, director of Campus Activities.
The event was originally planned for the prior Saturday, but due to disagreeable weather conditions the event had to be pushed back.
Despite the change in date, students and faculty were in attendance to do their part to help the community.
“We worked with three local agencies. Members of the YHC community helped with finishing construction on affordable housing in the Wesley Meadows neighborhood. We worked to help complete an outdoor adventure based training course for Niyelo at Towns County High School. We helped with painting, mulching, repairing and organizing the course. Finally, we walked, played, bathed and fed animals at the Human Society Mountain Shelter,” said Emmanuel.
Despite 25 degree weather, people attended the day of service to honor King’s legacy and make a difference, the group consisted of eight faculty/staff members and 62 students.
Tara Shiver, a junior music major from Covington, said, “it was a really great day; my favorite part of the day was going to the animal shelter. There was a puppy there. She was black and white. Her name was Tara, and my name is Tara; so I thought she was so cute. We got to play with her and clean the cages. And, my favorite part we got to walk them. It was a great time. After the day ended, we got to go have a pizza party at Papa’s Pizza. It was the best day ever.”
Every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day students look forward to not going to school, some businesses close, and the working people enjoy a day off, but how much do students really know about the man behind this holiday?
100 students on campus at YHC were asked the question, “Do you know where Martin Luther King Jr’s famous speech ‘I Have a Dream’ took place.” The results of the survey revealed that 62 percent of YHC students knew the location of the speech, with the remaining 38 percent not knowing where the speech took place.
Several students like freshman Jordan Meeks knew the location from watching the movie Forest Gump. Other students like junior Stacy Kammer remember the location from learning about it in high school. The majority of the students who answered yes knew in detail the precise moment and location of the speech.
This holiday is the celebration of the birth of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 15, 1929.
On this day we commemorate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his great dream to unite this nation we live in through peace and understanding. His dream came true. Through his and other activists’ work, Americans of all colors are able to experience freedom; because of this, MLK day is an important holiday for all Americans.
MLK Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, and his grave has been turned into a national historic site in his hometown Atlanta.
The 2011 celebration of this monumental day is celebrated on the 17th of January in all 50 states of American. The holiday is also celebrated in over 100 countries around the world. This year’s commemoration will mark the 82nd birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 25th anniversary of its national honor.
According to The King Center’s website, MLK’s wife Coretta Scott King said, “the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America.”
This holiday can now be found labeled on all purchased calendars, movies and books to this moment of history; however, people still remain unaware of the background of the speech that took place on this day.
This day is recognized as a national holiday, but it has not always been that way. In November of 1983, President Reagan signed a bill initiating this day as a holiday in January 1986. During the time of the first celebration only Washington D.C. and 27 states honored this day. For example, it was not until 1992 that the state of Arizona recognized this day as a holiday. Arizona was not the only state to reject the holiday. Up until the year 2000 South Carolina was the last state that recognized MLK day as a paid holiday.
According to the MLK Online website, his speech “I Have a Dream” is considered the“greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.”
It is on this day we honor Martin Luther King for his work toward nonviolent social change in not only America but across the world. Martin Luther King Jr. made history because of his shaping experiences in his hometown of Atlanta, his deep family origins in the African-American Baptist church, his theological studies, his involvement in religious and political leadership and because of his far-reaching contacts in the social justice movement during this time period. Each of these aspects led him to be the great and inspirational leader people know and appreciate still today.
“Ever since kindergarten I have learned about Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and one of the things I learned was that it was given in the top section of steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial. That fact has always stuck in my mind,” said Junior Cody Craft.
According to the MLK Online website, we must celebrate this day as ”A Day on Not a Day Off” and commemorate King’s inspiring words, “We must work unceasingly to uplift this nation that we love to a higher destiny, to a higher plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humanness” -Dr Martin Luther King Jr.