MSJC students and staff gathered together today for a special event in remembrance of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
The 7th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast took place at 7:30 a.m. at the Mt. San Jacinto College library. Political Science professor and chair of Human Behavior Willie Hamilton thanked those in attendance, while also thanking his constituents at the school.
A wide variety of district-related officials were in attendance, including Superintendent Roger Schultz and MSJC trustees Dorothy McCargill, Ann Motte and Tom Ashley.
The day’s events included an awards ceremony for the winners of an art competition, a gospel performance and speeches from students, professors and religious leaders. After a buffet-style breakfast, MSJC professors Eileen Doktorski and Millie Baez announced the winners of an art contest.
Each of the artists creation’s was “original and conceived from a personal idea (about diversity),” according to professor Dotorski.
The winning entries were done in a variety of mediums.
First prize went to student Tommy McCardle for his work “I See Diversity,” a manipulated photo depiction of a human eye looking at a handshake between two different people.
Aaron Taylor, another MSJC student, took second place for his three dimensional work “Diversity Unified,” a framed depiction of a stitched together face. For his materials, Taylor used plaster molding, paint and thread.
Rebecca Delgado took third place for her illustration “Looking for Hope.” The framed image is that of a woman holding a lotus flower. From across the room, it’s hard to see anything unusual about the woman’s face. Upon closer inspection, however, the viewer realizes that the face is compartmentalized, with each portion being a representation of a different race.
Aimee Ogden took fourth place with her metal sculpture “Blue Moon,” the subject of which is a nude woman facing a blue glass orb.
Professor Baez – who teaches sociology – noted that she found the sculpture to be particularly unique from a sociological standpoint because the woman was baring herself to the world in a very bold way.
Professor Dotorski – one of MSJC’s art professors – said that the event was special for her and the winning students because it celebrated the importance of the arts.
“One of the reasons I love art is that I get to be a part of something greater than myself,” Dotorski said.
After the presentation of the art contest winners, The Reconciliation Assembly Christian Choir performed a selection of gospel songs. Those in attendance clapped their hands and moved along to upbeat and uplifting music.
Afterward, Professor Abbie Perry introduced her students Makayla Davis and Janelle Muñoz. Both students delivered speeches that analyzed events during the lifetime of Dr. King.
Davis, who is set to graduate in the spring, examined the economic prosperity of the all-black neighborhood of Sweet Auburn. King lived in Sweet Auburn for much of his young life.
Muñoz, who just wrapped up her last semester at MSJC, spoke of the second great migration in the 1930s.
During this time, over a million African Americans relocated to cities in the north such as Philadelphia and Chicago for factory work; they also moved to urban hubs in the south, like Atlanta.
Muñoz noted that during a time when jobs were scarce, tensions between white and black Americans heightened. Some Americans were using The Bible – specifically books like Genesis – to push the idea that African Americans should be considered second class citizens.
King attempted to be different by using biblical texts to spread a message of tolerance, Muñoz said.
“Instead of using Christianity to support a racist, hateful agenda, Dr. King aspired to utilize it as a respectable force for ideas, even social protest,” she said.
Hemet Valley Baptist church leader Dale Garland took an in-depth look at King’s theological views and how they formed.
Professor Sylvester Scott looked at King’s use of non-violent protest over the years. He mentioned various goals that King had and explained how King attempted to use non-violent protest to achieve those goals.
The morning ended with some closing remarks from professor Hamilton and Reconciliation Christian Assembly Pastor Charles Hentley.
Both men applauded the diversity of people in the room.
Hamilton said that although many of King’s dreams have been realized, it’s important that people move from tolerance to acceptance of diversity.
Hamilton said: “(Diversity) is not a source of weakness, it’s a source of strength.”
Alex Groves is a local writer and new contributor to SWRNN.