This year Grambling State University’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began with a campus candlelight vesper.
Afterwards, those assembled participated in a candlelight procession to the Favrot Student Union Black and Gold Room. As they marched, the group sang the popular hymn “We’ve Come This Far by Faith.”The Favrot Student Union Board and United Campus Ministries’ Interfaith Council hosted the campus and community observance.
Campus Ministries’ Reverend Connie Breaux served as the emcee and gave the invocation. “Vesper means you are in a sacred moment, a time for worship,” said Breaux.
Dr. Jimmy McJamerson recited his poem, “Martin We Thank You!” The occasion was given by GSU’s Student Government Association President Steven Jackson.
“We must continue to carry this charge that has been bestowed upon us. It is our time to move forward, speak with passion, pride, and truth, but don’t forget the charge we have to keep,” he said.
Guest speaker Attorney Patrick Jefferson delivered the message of hope. His speech focused on the program’s theme, A Charge to Keep We Have. He began by quoting Dr. Benjamin E. Mays’ popular poem, “I have only just a minute, only sixty seconds in it. Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it, but it’s up to me to use it. Just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it.”
Jefferson advised the audience to take advantage of the present time and all of the opportunities that Dr. King and others fought for us to have. Jefferson said that we must help, push and uplift each other. Jefferson is president of the Bienville Parish Police Jury.
In order to succeed and achieve Dr. King’s dream, we, as a nation and a people, have to take the foundation that King gave us and build upon it.
Music was provided by Instruments of His Praise. Lead singer Tacorey Johnson said, “It is befitting to celebrate God tonight, since Dr. King did.” The group performed “Praise the Lord with Me” and “We’ve Come This Far by Faith.”
Remarks were given by Mayor Martha Andrus of Grambling. Andrus said it is imperative that we take pause to honor and celebrate Dr. King because he is a part of our heritage and history, and when we don’t know our history, we are doomed to repeat it.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. devoted his life to the advancement of civil rights and public service. It is a time to reaffirm our commitment to the basic principles that underlie our Constitution – equality and justice for all,” she said.
GSU students enjoyed the program and found it enlightening. Damien Blythers said the program was eye-opening. “Many of us don’t know what it was like during the civil right era.,” he said.
Blythers said Jefferson’s speech was touching and effective. “People can make it part of themselves and share it with someone else,” he said. Blythers is a junior majoring in business marketing.
Benjamin C. Gray thought the program was good. “The speech was great. Like the speaker said, life is real special and we never know what will happen in life, so we must take advantage of great moments that happen. We may have only one chance, one second,” Gray said.
Gray is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., like King was, so he and his fraternity brothers attend King observances and celebrations annually. Gray is a Baltimore native and is majoring in draft design engineering.
FSUB director David Ponton Jr. said we need to keep our students informed and keep them mindful of the sacrifices and things that King did during the civil rights period to allow them opportunities that they now enjoy.
“We cannot move forward if we do not know where we have been. There are so many things we take for granted, things that were not rights not so long,” he said. Ponton is assisted by Casey Byrd, who was instrumental in helping to organize the program.