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UIndy panel speaks at MLK Day convocation

Posted on 02.06.2013

The University of Indianapolis and the Black Student Association celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by hosting the annual convocation in memory of his legacy on Jan. 21 in Ransburg Auditorium.

As people walked into the auditorium, there was a slide show projecting pictures of King throughout his life and some of his famous quotes, while jazz music played in the background.

Director of the Institute for Civic Leadership and Mayoral Archives and Associate Professor of History and Political Science Edward Frantz said that for students to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and find a personal meaning in the holiday is especially important.

“It only becomes a useful holiday if some part of his [Martin Luther King Jr.’s] life, or messages from his life resonates with students in 2013,” Frantz said.

UIndy President Robert Manuel started the event off with a speech. He spoke of his time so far at UIndy and how traditions are so important to the community.

Following Manuel’s speech, Chaplain and Assistant Professor of Ecumenical and Interfaith Programs Lang Brownlee led the audience in prayer.

Rather than a single guest speaker, as in past years, the centerpiece of this year’s event was a panel session on King’s legacy.

“I found the discussion to be interesting,” said senior experience design major Kirstin Mindiola. “I liked hearing all the different perspectives of the panelists.”

Assistant Professor of History and Political Science Jamal Ratchford served as moderator for the panel, which was composed of Frantz, WIBC radio reporter and UIndy alumna Amber Stearns, as well as students Alexis Fort and Kyle Alvarez.

Frantz said that through the years that he has been a part of the university’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day events, there has never been anything like the panel discussion, and that made this year unique.

“My favorite part was the setup,” Frantz said. “I think the fact that we had students, an alumna and me there—I got a lot of different perspectives.”

After the panel discussion, the Voices of Worship Gospel Choir sang two songs. A background slide show of King’s life and accomplishments accompanied the choir.

The first song they sang was “Caravan of Love,” followed by “Praying for Peace,” with a solo by senior music major Lanea Bonney.

“My favorite part of the music was the second song,” Mindiola said. “It was a beautiful song, and they tried to get the audience into the music.”

Executive Director of Student Services Dan Stoker closed the event by thanking everyone for his or her participation. In addition to the convocation, the university and BSA also organized a day of service on Jan. 20 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“Each year there has been nationally more of a press to make it day of service [rather] than a day off,” Frantz said. “If that were to gain traction, I think it would be really relevant to students and to the mission of the university.”


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