About 100 people attended OCCC’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom of 1963.
The Aug. 28 event in the college union left several students in tears and others impressed.
Shaquetta Mack, sociology major, was among them.
“Martin Luther King is part of my ethnic group,” she said. “I wish I’d had the opportunity to meet him.”
King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered that day in 1963 before the Lincoln Memorial and rebroadcast for students at the college event.
Claudia Munoz, speech language pathology major, said it was a wonderful celebration.
“I had chills through the whole thing,” she said.
Zaid Khartit, Spanish major from Morocco, said he attended both to listen to King’s speech and to see how many people were interested.
Nursing major Nicole Locke said she was volunteering with the Arts Festival and decided to take a break to attend.
Sharon Vaughn, political science professor, lectured on how far the U.S. has come as a nation since that time and how much further the country has yet to travel.
“We have reduced Dr. King to a caricature,” she said.
Vaughn described King as a genius of incredible intellect who gave Americans “moral leadership,” which is a rare thing. Vaughn taught at King’s alma mater, Morehouse College in Atlanta, before joining the OCCC faculty this fall.
“The ultimate authority of what happens in this country is up to us,” she said, noting that everyone who benefits from King’s sacrifice is “standing on his shoulders.”
The ’60s were a time of racial turmoil, Vaughn said. Things changed when the news media was able to film the brutality against peaceful, non-violent protesters.
Americans were moved into action after seeing the news coverage.
“Pictures don’t lie,” she said.
King not only gave his life for others, but also was arrested 30 times, Vaughn said.
“It takes someone who is totally selfless, who is willing to be a martyr for society,” she said.
He was a young father of 34 when he gave the famous “I Have a Dream” speech. A year later he was presented with the Nobel Prize and Time magazine put him on the cover as “Man of the Year.” Five years later, he was assassinated.
Political Science Professor Dana Glencross said racism still exists in America and added that U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rulings have affected voting rights. The meeting concluded with a video of Morehouse College’s choir singing “We Shall Overcome.”
OCCC Librarians Tricia Sweany and Dana Tuley-Williams brought a variety of books to check out after the event. Students interested in learning more about Martin Luther King Jr., the March on Washington, or Civil Rights can find books and other materials at the college library.