(Logo courtesy of UM-Dearborn)

By AYESHA SALEEM, Guest Writer

On Wednesday, Jan. 18 the Office for Student Engagement hosted a breakfast in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Week.

This event was the last of a series of events hosted with the aim to spread awareness of the legacy MLK left behind.

The keynote speaker, Khalid el-Hakim, founded the Black History 101 Mobile Museum, which is a traveling historical exhibit with over 5,000 rare and genuine pieces that celebrate black history and influential black figures in America.

Although it was earlier in the day, the breakfast had a great turnout, with approximately 50 student and faculty members in attendance.

El-Hakim began his presentation on black history, its vital importance and the legacy of MLK Jr.

His moving words were backed with a PowerPoint presentation full of powerful, thought-provoking imagery. His examples of subtle racism—which resound in large corporations even today—reinforced the idea that racism is not merely an enemy of the past. With both Hakim and King’s message in mind, it is up to all of us today to honor and remember the struggles of African American citizens and fight injustices—in our country and around the world.

After listening to Hakim’s speak, Natasha Gilbert, president of the Black Student Union said, “MLK has always helped teach me to be accepting of others and their differences, and to try to work toward a peaceful solution to solving problems.”  

As we remember MLK’s life and death, the role of educating others to be accepting of our world’s diversity has become ours.

Student leader and president of the College Democrats, Zeina Condon said, “The most vital part of Martin Luther King Day is not the part where we celebrate what MLK has done for disparaged or marginalized African Americans. It is the part where we become aware of how many hateful, bigoted, violent hurdles stood in the way of his message—hurdles that still stand in the way of his legacy today. This day and all other days should remind us of that legacy and how important it is to maintain it and improve its strength, no matter how difficult that may be.”