A weeklong celebration for MLK, Jr.

Students attentively watch clips from the film “Walkout.”
Students attentively watch clips from the film “Walkout.”

Bellevue College spent last week honoring the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Black Student Union kicked off the festivities on Monday, Jan. 11 in the Library Media Center.

The BSU invited June Harriston, an academic counselor from the University of Washington.

Harriston spoke about the significance of education for minority students and the importance of selecting majors in the math and science fields where minority students are underrepresented.

The theme of Harriston’s speech was “bridging across differences,” a message King reiterated throughout his life and career as a civil rights leader.

Harriston suggested intergroup dialogue as a way of raising awareness of inequalities among students.

Intergroup dialogue is a way of communicating that explores “commonalities and differences in and between social groups,” said Harriston.

To the students in the room, Harriston relayed a few messages directly to them. “Challenge yourself, reach out to somebody who looks different from you, embrace, be authentic, suspend judgment, be willing to listen. … In doing so, you’re doing the work of Dr. King,” said Harriston.

A speaker from the BABES Network followed Harriston’s speech.

According to the BABES network website, “BABES was started by a group of HIV positive women in Seattle, Washington who came together to share information, experiences and support.”

The speaker, who is HIV positive, shared anecdotes from his personal life.

He addressed the issues of being HIV positive in the black community.

He also spoke about how having AIDS is associated with a stigma and therefore, there is a lack of communication and understanding within the black community.

To cap off Monday’s events, the BSU showed the film “Stand,” by Tavis Smiley.

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Latin American Culture Club and El Centro Latino, in association with Multicultural Services, held a brown bag discussion in room C130.

The discussion centered on how Martin Luther King, Jr. impacted Latinos in the United States.

Henry Amaya from MCS gave a quick introduction touching on subjects such as education, immigration, migration, and health care, all topics related to civil rights.

Daniel Lile, LACC President, showed clips from the film “Walkout.” The movie is based on a true story.

In 1968, Mexican-American students from five Los Angeles high schools staged a walkout to protest injustice and racial inequalities in the public school system.

After showing the clips, Amaya and Lile led a discussion in which students talked about the movie and the inequalities Latinos face today.

On Wednesday, Jan. 13, the Associated Student Government held a potluck in C130. The room was full; people of different races and ethnicities mingled, enjoying the food provided by staff and students.

Spoken Words was held in the cafeteria following the potluck.

Clubs and Programs Representative Andres Munt invited students to perform on stage.

Performances included poetry recitals and freestyle rapping.

Finally, on Thursday, Jan. 14, Carlson Theatre was packed for the week’s last and main event.

Except for a few changes in the program, the event ran smoothly.

Dr. James Bennett, Vice President of Equity and Pluralism, introduced the Evan Flory-Barnes Trio band.

The keynote speaker, Dion Jordan, spoke after the band’s performance.

Jordan is an award-winning educator and founder of Dion Jordan Enterprises, a firm that helps empower individuals and organizations to improve their performance.

Jordan talked about King’s life and dreams while inspiring the audience members to follow their own dreams.

“This man changed the world by doing three simple movements. Three things that he taught us how to do that changed the world. You know what those three movements were? Sitting, standing, and walking. He took these movements that we use every day and changed the hearts and minds of a nation,” said Jordan.

The Evan Flory-Barnes trio performed two more songs after Jordan’s speech, and then President Jean Floten took to the stage.

“When I think about Dr. Martin Luther King, I see a number of images in my mind but I think the predominant one is to see a spirit that burned so brightly that it had the power to ignite the passions, the dreams, the beliefs of a whole generation of people that then went on to influence not only this nation, but the world. … [King’s] message is so important to each and every one of us,” said Floten.

To end the event and weeklong celebration, student Minilik Yewondwossen recited an original poem that received a roar of applause.

A reception was held in the theatre lobby after the main event.