The Sunflower

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.: Wichita State students, community members gather for parade

Paraders+participate+in+the+annual+Martin+Luther+King+Jr.+citywide+celebration.
Paraders participate in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. citywide celebration.

Paraders participate in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. citywide celebration.

Daniel Caudill

Daniel Caudill

Paraders participate in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. citywide celebration.

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Wichita State faculty, student groups, and alumni joined community members at the Christian Faith Center’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. parade.

 

Many of the students and alumni representing WSU were from Greek chapters, including Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, of which King was a member. Mohamed Dia, a sophomore member, spoke on the significance of King’s legacy to their chapter.

“We take pride in being able to get involved,” Dia said. “It’s important that we, as King’s own fraternity, honor his life and all the change he brought.”

He said King’s ideas of community engagement were representative of the goals of Alpha Phi Alpha. “Any time you see one of [our] jackets, you should think of that.”

Former Student Body President and graduate member of Alpha Phi Alpha Joseph Shepard said that with today’s social issues related to race and gender, King’s ideas of “justice and equality for all” should be remembered.

Shepard said that the fraternity attended the parade to honor King, but also to send a bigger message to the community – “United we stand, divided we fall and fail.”

Danielle Johnson, program coordinator for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, said this was the third year that the office had taken part in the parade.

“The marginalized and oppressed communities that we deal with are what Martin Luther King was all about,” she said. “We like to take part in events on and off-campus that represent our ideas.”

Johnson said that King’s marches for equality and other forms of activism during his lifetime were in-line with the beliefs the office upholds.

“It’s important to remember his values throughout a lifetime, not just around this time,” Johnson said. “Treasured events like these are the best way to get educated (about them).”

The parade spanned a mile across Broadway, and served as the final event of an annual honorary program for the life and legacy of King Saturday morning.

Other events included a free breakfast for children, various classes for children and youth, a strategy forum by the NAACP, and a non-perishable food drive as entry for the parade.

Local employees of T-Mobile were also at the parade for their third time.

According to an employee named Kevin Caren, the cell-phone company collected nearly two-thousand food items to for the Christian Faith Center’s food drive.

“Being able to donate and give back to the community is the best part (of the parade),” Caren said.

Rickey Dodd, another T-Mobile employee said that the company worked on a project where each employee recorded a video explaining what King meant to them.

Dodd said that it was important for the Wichita community to be knowledgeable about King and his ideals, primarily for young people.

“It’s important for youths, especially minorities, to realize and take advantage of opportunities that weren’t available during Martin’s time,” Dodd said.

Other community groups participating in the parade included the Wichita Fire Department, James Thompson for U.S. Congress, and ICTRBG, a pro-black activist group.

Lakisha Conner, church member at the Christian Faith Center, said her favorite part of organizing the event is getting to form new relationships with her correspondents in the community.

“It’s exciting to see the growth,” she said. “The goal is to get more people involved each year.”

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