Living King’s dream

Alana Belton brought a message of hope to the students of Grambling State University as she spoke at a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on Monday. “It’s not enough for us to keep dreaming, we have to start living,” Belton told more than 200 in the audience.

Joining the students were prominent leaders in the Ruston and Grambling communities. GSU students included representatives from the university’s Favrot Student Union Board, Greek organizations and the GSU Royal Court. Shortly after 5 p.m., dozens marched from the fighting tiger sculpture to the Black and Gold Room in the Favrot Student Union as they sang “We Shall Overcome” and carried candles. The Favrot Student Union Board and Campus Ministries hosted the event.

“This event is important because Martin Luther King Jr. was a very prominent man in history with all of the contributions he made to the black movements for civil rights, including the image of the black community,” said Tiara Thomas, Grambling State University’s Miss Cover Girl. “He is one of the most remembered men in African American history.  It’s amazing to learn what he has done, and to see his impact on the African American community.”

Belton said students should develop good relationships and partnerships, making God first; have a vision, write it down, and believe with a plan and a purpose. She challenged the students to go 300 days without violence.

Belton, a prominent local attorney and businesswoman, is co-owner and vice president of The Belton Company, which she operates with her husband, John Belton, the company’s president. The company businesses include restaurants, a law firm and a sports training facility.
As Belton gave students her “Seven Keys to Success” she included faith as a core and suggested forgiving, forgetting and be blessed. She said students should not give up, and should always “be a giver.”

State Sen. Rick Gallot said “the reason Dr. King lived and died was to make things better, not just for his generation but for the generations to come.”
For more than 20 years, GSU has celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday on the third Monday in January, which is close to his birthday is January 15. The holiday was signed into law in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan.

Students listened carefully as Belton discussed the importance of attending class, taking notes and having the right friends. She also said by following the rules “you get freedom, and you get blessed.”

Belton described her passion to help young people, saying she employs more than 100 students a year at their Wing Stop restaurants. She encouraged students to look for and read “Black Enterprise” magazine because it provides information about young African-Americans entrepreneurs who have figured out ways to be successful. Belton also spoke to students about focusing on a dream that’s real and accomplishable, and being engaging in the community. She suggested that students make class attendance, taking notes and studying seriously.

Raven LeDay, GSU’s FSUB president, said it is important that the university celebrate King “because the new generation is starting to forget their purpose in life, and why we fight” for better lives. “We should all be more educated in or history about African Americans,” added LeDay.