Celebrating MLK’s Legacy


Social Work major Evelyn Neal at the University of Central Missouri performed by drawing to Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech at the Freedom Scholarship Fundraiser event to honor MLK’s legacy on Jan. 17.

  The University of Central Missouri celebrated the life, work and memory of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from Jan. 11 to Jan. 20. UCM’s theme for this year’s MLK Celebration was “Living the Dream and Still Marching.”

  “It was important for us to highlight the fact that this was the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, this year,” Lover Chancler, Director of the Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity said. “To see the parallels from what he talked about in 1965 in that speech that are still things that the African American community, the black community is fighting with and for today.”

  According to Chancler, one of the biggest changes that King made is relevant to today, which is the effectiveness of the peaceful protest.

  “There are several different ways people can deal with oppression, but the most effective way to deal with oppression is to make the oppressor look as if they are doing something wrong, not the oppressed,” Chancler said. “By responding in violence, it often is put off on the oppressed for ‘why would you do that?’ instead of the oppressor. So, that was the movement that created the change, when society as a whole realized that these people, we were really just asking for equality and that in that we were faced with violence.”

  Chancler said that this message from King is still seen in how 97% of the George Floyd protests were peaceful. 

  For students at UCM today, Chancler says it is important to be involved and to draw the community together.

  “We want to make sure that the community as a whole knows that we are supportive of diversity and inclusion, we want them to feel welcomed on this campus,” Chancler said. “That’s the culture we have here. It’s a culture of connectedness in that we are accepting of everyone.”

  One event where students got involved was the MLK Day of Service in the Union on Jan. 19. The day featured a number of different tables that offered students a variety of ways to give back to the community through encouraging letters, inspiring art or making t-shirt bags for UCM’s Campus Cupboard. 

  “Just thinking about his [King’s] purpose, giving back, how we get to do this right now,” Kiance Brock, junior in Kinesiology and an executive member of UCM Underdogs, a mentoring organization for freshman and transfer students, said. “I look at it as an acknowledgement day. He is the reason for a lot of stuff we have going on right now, the fact that I’m even here at this university.”

  At the service day and a variety of other events throughout the MLK celebration, students had the opportunity to reflect on King’s legacy.

  “It’s something that helps other people realize how important it is,” Freshman Pre-Medical major Kaelin Valdez said. “Because of human rights. We’re in the 21st century, we should know more about human rights.”

  While considering the 60th anniversary of the march on Washington, many students also looked to the future.

  “We’re celebrating the man who changed the future for a lot of people,” Freshman Marketing major Lincoln Kelly said. “I would also like to look back on the past and see that we have room to grow and more to do.”