Students attended a Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Luncheon this Wednesday where Denise Taliaferro Baszile delivered a speech and scholarships and awards were rewarded.
This is SIUE’s 37th year hosting the event on campus, with this year’s theme being “The time is always right to do right,” a line lifted from a commencement speech King gave.
Miriam Roccia, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, said it’s important students have access to an event like this.
“Our challenge by the election of this year’s theme is that reminder to our students, our faculty and staff, that speaking up for what’s right and taking action for what’s right- not just doing what’s right- but doing right by other people is what we’re here to do,” Roccia said.
Roccia also compared King’s message to SIUE’s goal to help students develop skills to help change the world.
The special guest this year is Denise Taliaferro Baszile, the Associate Dean for Student Services and Diversity at Miami University. According to Roccia, she’s qualified to speak because of her role in promoting diversity and fighting racial injustice in higher education.
Student reactions toward the luncheon and MLK weekend in general have been positive.
“We need to recognize and keep moving forward with his beliefs and everything. I just think we need to be reminded each year of what he did for the country,” Junior exercise science major Taylor Vaughan, of Dupo, Illinois, said.
Some said King’s fight for race equality has gone beyond race.
“MLK day is important because I think he was really one of those people who pressed on for equality, and not just race equality, because it’s been kind of a ripple effect. We’ve got more race equality, we’ve got more gender equality and more sexuality equality,” Freshman computer science major Rebecca Maine of O’Fallon, Missouri, said.
Students can check out other events held by the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion on their website.