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Multicultural Affairs office celebrates life of MLK

By Staff | Jan 21, 2011

Shepherd University’s Multicultural Leadership team participated in a Day of Service project to honor Martin Luther King Monday and plan to help host a panel discussion to discuss his life and mission.

According to Christana Johnson, the director of Multicultural Student Affairs and Disability Support Services at SU, members of the multicultural leadership team participate in a Day of Service project every year on MLK Day to celebrate King’s legacy.

This year Johnson and the approximately 20 students who participated in the event decided to pick a project that allowed them to work together as one big group.

Johnson said in years past the group has split itself up at different sites, concentrating on many projects. But while working at a soup kitchen last year, the team was inspired by an activity that they witnessed members of a church participating in.

This year the group decided to adopt that project which found them crafting sleeping bags out of all recycled materials for the homeless.

The supplies for the bags included things like old quilts, pillow cases and sheets and were donated by the Shepherd community, Johnson said, who sent out an email to students asking them to chip in any materials that could be used for the project.

For Johnson, the Day of Service event is an opportunity for students to continue the mission she believes King stood for.

“As college students, we are privileged If we have good, we need to do good for others,” she said.

The team plans to donate the bags to one or two new emergency cold weather shelters in Jefferson or Berkeley Counties depending on the need.

Though the team has yet to make any formal plans for next year’s Day of Service project, Johnson said ideas are floating around amongst the group, which has discussed the possibility of a project involving the whole campus community.

In the meantime the group will continue to work toward achieving King’s dream, and the Multicultural Affairs office is set to extend the celebration of King’s life and work to Monday night, Jan. 24, by hosting its annual panel discussion and forum on MLK.

This year’s panel will include a student member of the Multicultural Leadership Team, Bassell Franks, a senior music major and resident assistant.

According to Franks, who participated in the Day of Service project, the discussion Monday night will center on things like Obama’s presidency and the women’s movement toward civil rights, as well as MLK’s legacy.

Franks admitted that he is nervous about the debate but looks forward to the unique learning opportunity.

Serving on the Multicultural Leadership team for the second semester, Franks said he views the team’s work on MLK day and the corresponding panel discussion as opportunities to achieve an “extension of what Martin Luther King was striving for.”

He explained that though he learned about civil rights and Dr. King in grade school, he did not realize that the King holiday was considered a day of service until he came to Shepherd. He now believes that part of MLK’s dream is that each citizen give of yourself for the betterment of the public, as King did.

The panel discussion will be held on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies. Along with Franks, the members of the panel include Elizabeth Shanton, assistant director of the student center, Greek Life and Commuter Affairs and David Hostetter, director of programs and research for the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies.