Hundreds commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. during annual Walk of Life

Participants prepare to leave the Marriott Center tunnel for the MLK Walk of Life. The Walk of Life focused on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. (Ethan Porter)

Hundreds of BYU students, faculty members and community members participated in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Walk of Life on Wednesday, Jan. 17.

The event, hosted by BYU Multicultural Student Services, started in the tunnel south of the Marriott Center, where participants lit candles as they prepared for the solemn walk to the Wilkinson Student Center.

During the half mile walk, participants walked in complete silence as they honored the life and legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose non-violent approach as a civil rights activist some members say aligns with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Once the participants gathered at the WSC, they heard musical numbers from the BYU Gospel Choir and speeches from the three finalists of the MLK student contest sponsored by BYU’s Africana Studies.

Film director Mauli Junior Bonner ended the program with his keynote address about the importance of continuing the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and how community members are doing so today.

“There are those of us who are also doing work in our communities and having hard conversations with close friends, as well as changes that you’re trying to make,” Bonner said.

Matthew Burns, a BYU student studying finance, said he appreciated Martin Luther King Jr.’s dedication to a noble cause.

“He is somebody who’s driven for the right thing, who believes in the right cause, and values and doesn’t back down,” Burns said.

During his address, Bonner shared how Martin Luther King Jr.’s life is an example of every Black man, woman and child living in the country.

“There’s something special about African Americans because throughout history we don’t hear their anger and bitterness but we still hear their songs of hope and love and forgiveness,” Bonner said.

Participants at the conclusion of the event shared what they loved about the walk and the program.

“I really liked the idea of walking with the light because I think what he did … was a light to what was happening at that time,” Ingrid Jaime, a participant at the event, said.

Other community members shared what Martin Luther King Jr. means to them personally and how they can continue to honor his legacy.

“Martin Luther King is a symbol of courage,” community member Reyan Luka said. “I think he really values people coming together and sharing their beliefs.”

Heinen Louis, a member of the BYU gospel choir from France, said Martin Luther King Jr. is an example all across the world.

“Martin Luther King is an emblem and he’s really like the figure of Black struggles,” Louis said.

Louis compared the Walk of Life to Martin Luther King Jr.’s own marches aimed at equality and representation.

“It’s a representation of, ‘I am walking towards something,’ in this case it will be towards justice, towards equality,” Louis said.

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