Student Programs hosts Martin Luther King Festival

Ariana and Peaches Thomas read a poem. Photo by Amy Leong

When February is mentioned, what generally comes to mind is cold and candy hearts. February is, however, a month of something more important and substantial than candy: It’s Black History month.

On Feb. 17, starting at noon, was the Martin Luther King celebration here at the college, hosted by the Black Student Union (BSU) and the African Student Association (ASA).

The BSU started out by apologizing and explaining that the celebration was later than planned because of the snowstorm. Laura Culbertson also announced their vision statement: That “we, the BSU of BC, strive to make positive changes in our schools and with ourselves.”

The first performance was gospel singing by Ryan J Smith, at Highline Community College. He sang “A Change Is Gonna Come,” by Sam Cooke, an R&B singer. The song became an anthem for the American Civil Rights Movement.

“it’s been a long, long time coming/but I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will/it’s been to hard living but I’m afraid to die…”

Next, Ariana and Peaches Thomas read the poem “Why God Made Me Black” by New World. The poem is paralleled by shame and pride. The first part asks why God gave the readers skins as “dark as night,” the color of “a bruised eye” and “dirt.” In contrast, the second part compares color to a stallion, coal that turns to diamonds, and a lamb’s wool.

“A Letter from Birmingham Jail” was read by Ankober Yewondwossen, Ariana Thomas, Peaches Thomas, and Jamel Moxley. The audience was asked to replace the word “race” with “class” to show that MLK’s words can be applicable both then and today.

MLK said “Socrates practice civil disobedience, and so did the Boston Tea Party…Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  (maybe this quote could be lifted?) I feel it’s significant)

Gwen Allen-Carston, the Executive Director of the Kent Black Action Commission gave a speech called “Dream with Vision, Live with Purpose”. She spoke of how far Bellevue College has come, reminiscing of the what it was 20 years ago, when it was tiny and the Safeway was down the hill.

She and two other performers showcased “What Would Happen If There Were No Black People In the World?”

Not a whole lot. Black men and women invented the following amenities required in our daily lives: The comb, the brush, the dustpan, mop, dryer, automatic gear shift, traffic stop, fridge, thermostat, air conditioner, blood bank, open heart surgery, and many more.

Apostle Jimmie James gave his speech of “Staying Focused,” that reinforces the concept of “we gotta come up higher,” the importance of staying in school, and focusing on “hope, education, and diversity.”

“For too long we have let other people decide what’s important about who we are. If you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you’re going.”

Dale Griffith, Patrick Smith, Dominic Cole, and Andre Benjamin performed Spoken Word and Music Expression.

The event closed with a buffet and dance.