The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Campus commemorates life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. throughout week

It’s a cold Monday morning as people gather quietly in Dana Auditorium. Suddenly hip-hop music layered over Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech blasts from the speakers. James Shields, director of community learning, runs onstage and grabs the mic, saying, “Come on, get up everybody, it’s Martin Luther King Day!”On Jan. 21, students, faculty, and members of the Greensboro community gathered to celebrate the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through the art of dance.

The performances included a traditional Palestinian Dadka, or three-step dance, by Muhammed Khalaf and Manar Faraj that told a Bedouin love story. The North Carolina Steppers Association did a Chicago-style step dance, Kristina Rogers presented a gospel-inspired praise dance, and Keisha Rose Little Eagle did a Native American Jingle Dress dance.

Little Eagle, a member of the Crow tribe, came from Montana to perform in an elaborate and colorful dress covered in small silver cones that shook and jingled as she danced. Shields explained that the origins of the dance came from a story of a grandfather who helped his granddaughter recover from sickness through dance. It’s a dance of healing and peace for modern Crows.

“I enjoyed performing today,” said Little Eagle, smiling.

Linda Bryant, an instructor for a local North African dance troupe, performed a simple and lighthearted Nubian dance. Bryant explained that the ancient Nubians lost their homelands when flooding scattered them to Egypt and Sudan. However, their traditions are still alive today.

“The Nubian people took their culture with them,” Bryant said as she invited members of the audience onstage to teach them Nubian dance steps. The participants tried to keep up with Bryant, who spun and clapped in time with music by Ali Hassan Kuban, the self-proclaimed godfather of Nubian soul.

Shields explained that this year’s theme focused on Dr. King’s dream to unite different people through their common humanity.

“We’re alike when it comes to music and dance, but we’re all different at the same time,” Shields said. “(Today) you’ll see things you’ve never seen before. These (performers) are your neighbors, people in your community. That’s what MLK Day is all about.”

Community was another important theme of Monday’s celebrations. Most of the performers were locals or had some connection to the Guilford community. They were all eager to participate in the day’s commemoration.

“We’re all about community service and performing,’ said NC Step Association performer Antoine Lily.

Between the dances and Shield’s M.C.-ing, poet Josephus III read his original piece about the continuing struggle for equality and the work of Dr. King. Senior Cedric Essah read selections from his favorite poet Claude McKay, including “Enslaved,” “America,” and “If We Must Die.” Student community co-coordinators also spoke about different activists ranging from Fredric Douglas to Cesar Chavez and even to children activists.

Sophomore Katie O’Boyle told the story of a four-year-old boy named Alex who was diagnosed with cancer and decided to start a lemonade stand to raise money for cancer research. Now Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation raises millions of dollars towards finding a cure.

“So remember,” O’Boyle said to the young children in the front rows, “even if you’re a kid you can make a difference, so get out there and start a lemonade stand!”

Jada Drew, Americorps Vista rep. and Guilford graduate, closed the event with an inspiring message. Drew reminded everyone young and old to remember Dr. King’s dream by pursing their own dreams.

“We should all do the work that Martin Luther King Jr. would have done if he’d lived,” Drew said.

Even if you missed Monday’s celebrations, James Shields reminded us that MLK Day is something communities can celebrate anytime: “It’s always a good day to come together.

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