University sponsors 29th annual MLK celebration

Trends Reporter

Students will have an opportunity to take part in Texas State’s 29th annual “Freedom, a State of Mind” Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative celebration Jan. 23.

Sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the two-part program kicks off outside Old Main with a freedom march reenactment beginning at 6:15 p.m. From there, participants will head to LBJ Ballroom for refreshments, discussion and celebration.

The event commemorates the living legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.—one of the most prolific and celebrated civil rights activists in American history. Students and faculty, as well as local high school students and the surrounding community, are encouraged to join the festivities in observance of the holiday.

“We will start at Old Main for a candle-lit march that will lead us to the LBJ Ballroom where we have President Trauth giving a speech as well as the Dr. King’s ‘I have a Dream’ speech recited,” said Jonnie Wilson, assistant director for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Mayor Daniel Guerrero is expected to deliver the celebration’s closing remarks, Wilson said. Wilson said she expects a turnout between 300 and 400 people, including approximately 125 San Marcos High School students.

For this year’s event, Wilson said volunteers are needed, but Bobcats can support the event’s cause simply by attending the celebration.

“Our community is all about embracing multiple cultures, because we are still fighting for freedom and for social justice for all,” Wilson said.

Samantha Blondell, student event coordinator and respiratory care senior, said it is important for attendees to arrive at the march early and stay for each event because the overall experience is both “enriching” and “invigorating.”  

“This celebration is really a testimony to the diversity we have here at Texas State, and the fact that students have the chance to be interactive in the march makes it special,” Blondell said. “That’s why I have been involved for four years. Not only is it fun, but it’s cool and different compared to other things on campus.”

City officials are sponsoring and hosting several events in honor of the late activist and the civil rights movement, in addition to Texas State’s main MLK celebration.

In conjunction with the city, the LBJ-MLK Crossroads Memorial Project plans to celebrate the national holiday by unveiling a sculpture by Louisiana artist Aaron Hussey. The statue, which will stand at the intersection of MLK and LBJ Drives, honors the joint commitment by President Johnson, King and local civil rights trailblazers to forge equality legislation 50 years ago.

A ceremony and reception for the Crossroads Project will take place Jan. 20, kicking off at the Hays County Courthouse.

“I like that even after all these years, we still take the time to really honor what Dr. King did,” said Elizabeth Cerna, political science sophomore. “Not only is the campus embracing Dr. King and what he stood for, but it shows how the campus embraces me as well.”