MLK Day unites community members

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“Be true to what you say on paper.”

These iconic words were from the last speech Martin Luther King Jr. gave and the theme of the 2016 MLK Day celebration that bridged the gap between Pacific University and the Forest Grove community.

The celebration had events from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., had nearly 100 attendees.

The day began with an Interfaith Service in Old College Hall, led by Rev. Jennifer Yocum from the Forest Grove United Church of Christ.

Yocum and attendees of the service prayed for the courage and words to speak out against major and microaggressions against people of color in their community.

Yocum said it was an honor to be of service to the community, strengthening the connection between the community and students.

“It’s too easy for those of us in the community to only interact with students in a performance venue,” Yocum said. “It was very special to see community members and students participating together as equals today.”

Following the service, a peace march led by the Roots & Shoots Peace Doves went from Rogers Park back to the university. The Roots & Shoots Peace Doves was founded by Jane Goodall and has expanded into members in nearly 100 countries working on local and global community service projects. The Forest Grove chapter, led by Charlie Graham, is comprised of young students.

More than 60 participants marched to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech while flying giant peace doves and carrying signs.

After the march, attendees gathered in the University Center for a celebration program. Emceed by politics and government professor Jim Moore, the program featured a welcome from Forest Grove Mayor and alumni Pete Truax, a keynote speech from Crescent Systems and Muslim Educational Trust Local Advisory committee president Gulzar Ahmed, a student panel about the meaning of the first amendment and musical presentations from soloist Savanna Carter.

During the noon program, the Roots & Shoots chapter gave attendees an opportunity to participate in the “Join Students Rebuild” international rescue project to help Syrian youth from conflict areas. Under the project, the Bezos Family Foundation pledged to donate two dollars per pinwheel to the healing classrooms program.

During the keynote, Ahmed DSC_1576WEB DSC_1509WEBJanae Sargent
continued with the theme of being true to what you say on paper, commending the constitution where all minorities are protected. He said while in writing all people are protected equally, the last presidential administration trampled on minority rights.

He said the real test to how true we are to what we say on paper comes in times of trial, like the terrorist attack of 9/11 and the Paris bombings. He says it is our responsibility to speak out for respect for all human life, not just some.

The 2016 MLK celebration marked the 26th annual Pacific University celebration of the national holiday and encouraged Pacific, the Forest Grove community and local organizations to continue to work together to commemorate the legacy of Rev. King.


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