Student Leaders Call for Activism at BU’s 2012 MLK Day Celebration

By David Li, translation by Tielong Xie

In the afternoon of January 16, Martin Luther King’s alma mater Boston University (BU) held the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day celebration in MacDermid Kraft Metcalf Hall. Over 1000 BU students, faculty and the community activists, attended the commemoration.

The title of this year’s commemoration is Manifest Our Destiny. During the commemoration, student leaders took stage in turn to speak, while other students held signs on stage behind the speaker as if they were demonstrating on the street. They called on students to live their lives with passion, care about world affairs, influence people around there, and help change the world.

Walter Fluker, Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Ethical Leadership at BU School of Theology, said of the Manifest Our Destiny as an appropriate title, and was in accordance with the Martin Luther King, Jr.’s passionate pursuit of justice and peace.

Stefan Jones, a student leader, took to the podium while singing If I Can Help Someone, the song played in the 1968 Martin Luther King funeral. Then, he delivered a passionate speech. He said: “At the same time Martin Luther King Jr. helped others, he also helped change the world. Maybe someone will ask if Dr. King’s is still relevant today? The answer is yes.” In October last year, Jones represented Boston University to participate in the opening ceremony of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s National Memorial in Washington DC.

As a black student from the South, he criticized consumerism in today’s society, and the “I got mine and don’t care if you can got yours” mentality. He said “such mentality is very difficult to be reversed in a short time, it is rooted in Western culture’s history of conquer, take and expand. This is why we need leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. who cared not about fame and money.” He urged students in the audience to value not a prestigious diploma, but what they could do to make lives better for others.

To end his speech, Jones recited the famous drum major instinct sermon by Martin Luther King Jr. a few months before he was assassinated together with the audience.

“If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. (Yes) And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school. (Yes)

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. (Yes)
I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.
I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. (Amen)
I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. (Yes)
And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. (Yes)
I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. (Lord)
I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. (Yes)”

Martin Luther King, Jr. obtained a doctorate degree in theology from BU in 1955. After receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he donated many manuscripts, tapes, letters and other precious artifacts to BU.

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