BYU students and members of the Provo community gathered on campus to commemorate the life and mission of Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 19.
BYU Multicultural Student Services organized the Walk of Life Event preceding Black History Month to honor the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday which was celebrated on Jan. 17.
“BYU doesn’t just take the day off, they also have this event to further show their love and support to the Black community,” BYU advertising student Kennethia Dorsey said.
At the start of the event, those in attendance gathered in the tunnel adjacent to the Marriott Center where candles were passed around and lit.
In complete silence, attendees walked the half-mile to the Wilkinson Student Center illuminated by the candlelight. They then gathered at their destination to hear musical numbers performed by students JRay Kuhn and Melody Olvera, essay-readings by the top two finalists of the MLK Essays competition and a final speech by J Teresa Davis, a Multicultural Student Services advisor.
“Being able to share the messages that needed to be shared and to talk about the things that can be difficult to talk about sometimes and to be able to have people that are willing and so kind to come to these events and to be able to spread the word as well, that’s what made it great,” said Emily Christensen, the student program coordinator for the event.
A camaraderie was evident among the students as they embraced during and after the event. Even though Black students are a minority at BYU, events like these help many people of color feel like they belong and are seen on campus.
“We’re not the minority anymore. We’re here and we’re showing everybody what our culture is and that we’re here to make a change,” Kuhn said. Kuhn sang at the event and is a BYU junior studying nursing and Portuguese studies.
Throughout the event, there was an emphasis on being a part of change in the community and working harder to bridge racial divides. Students and community members were encouraged to participate and attend future events in the coming month to celebrate Black History Month and to bring the community closer together.
“Just like we sang and talked about tonight, we’re here to make a change and a change is going to come,” Kuhn said.