Grambling State University began its celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a candlelight procession on Monday evening. The program was sponsored by the Favrot Student Union Board and United Campus Ministries.Due to inclement weather, both the procession and program were held in the Favrot Student Union Black & Gold Room.
The Honorable James E. “Jamie” Mayo, mayor of Monroe, was the guest speaker. He began by saying, “Happy birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. All over the world many are paying homage to Dr. King today.”
Before he began his speech, Mayo gave GSU president, Dr. Frank G. Pogue, a key to the city. He pinned the key to Dr. Pogue’s lapel.
Mayo began by telling three stories. He said that he spoke to ZerNona Clay, one of Dr. King’s administrative assistants, who told about his children clinging to him and asking him not to go to Memphis, where he was assassinated.
The next story was about Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles. Dr. King and his aides from the SCLC made plans to eat at Kyles’ home on the evening that Dr. King was shot. Kyles was headed to his car when the shots rang out.
Then he spoke about meeting Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s wife. He said he thanked her for being so supportive of her husband, a giant of a man all over the world. Mayo told her that he would have never had a chance to serve in the capacity of mayor had it not been for Dr. King.
Mayo said, “Dr. King left his mark. He spoke and taught us that we, as a people, have the right to live our dreams. Dr. King made the ultimate sacrifice for our dreams.”
Mayo told the audience in the 21st century they should always push for justice and fight to preserve and enhance the civil rights of today.
He ended by encouraging everyone to surround themselves with visionaries, so they can see a destiny for themselves.
“What will your destiny be? What mark will you leave on this world? Because of Dr. King, we have an opportunity to be president of a university, president of this nation.”
GSU students on program included Jordan Gaither, who recited his poem “Nation of a Dream” and Kelsha Arceneaux who sang Mahalia Jackson’s “Trouble of the World.”
Arceneaux said she chose this selection because Mahalia Jackson was one of Dr. King’s favorite singers. Arceneaux is a senior majoring in applied music.
Indianapolis native Gaither said he entitled his poem after Dr. King’s famous speech “I Have a Dream.” He said we are now living the dream because of Dr. King.
Dr. Pogue thanked everyone for attending the program. Then he told of his involvement with Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.
He said Dr. King had a capacity to put words together and was a reluctant warrior and the thrust of the movement was to guarantee that all had equal access to a quality education.
Pogue spoke of student involvement in the movement, “Students have been a catalyst for change. Students changed universities.”
He said students were the integrators, and they have played key roles in the many changes, but it is not over: “You still have a major role to play – respect yourself; respect each other.”
“It is your turn to do more. Dr. King was very special, and he brought us all together in ways we must continue to be together,” he said.
Students found the program very enlightening. Jemarcus Jackson, a Jonesboro native majoring in engineering technology said the program was very informational.
“People should show gratitude. Were it not for Dr. King, we would not be here today. People should learn why they are able to do what they can do today,” he said.
Tyrone Nears, a junior nursing major, said the program was well put together, and the youth need to hear about Dr. King and his legacy.
“Mayor Mayo spoke very well, and I learned from his stories. I liked how he said Coretta Scott King was a great wife to Dr. King and stood by him,” Nears said.