Mount Union Hosts 25th Annual MLK Jr. Awards Ceremony and Keynote Address

January 23, 2017

ALLIANCE, Ohio – To end Martin Luther King Jr. Week, the University of Mount Union hosted its 25th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards and Keynote Address on Thursday, January 19 in Brush Performance Hall. Keynote speaker Reverend P. Mandel Childs presented on the topic “Millennials: Movers and Shakers.”

Ron Holden, assistant dean of students and director of diversity & inclusion, gave opening remarks and welcomed members of the Mount Union student organization Inspirational Voices of Praise (IVOP), who sang “Yesu Azali Awa” and “Are You Listening” as an opening performance.

Abby Honaker, director of the Regula Center for public service and civic engagement, then announced the winners of the student awards. Senior Kristen Jackson and junior Reilly Augustine were the recipients this year for their work and dedication toward peace, diversity, and social justice on Mount Union’s campus.

Along with the awards, Laurence Talley and Sandy Womack Jr., two brothers from the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., gave recipients the “Letters to a Birmingham Jail” novel along with a $500 prize. Talley then discussed the history of Alpha Phi Alpha and how brothers from their fraternity noticed the lack of diversity within the admission, business buildings, and faculty on campus. Despite the fear of being kicked out of the University or losing scholarships, brothers joined together to protest the lack of diversity. The University heard the students concerns, and diversity was added to the staff, the formation of diversity offices was brought up, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service was made.

Student Senate President Katie Shimp then gave opening remarks for Reverend P. Mandel Childs’s presentation. Rev. Childs began his address by discussing the start of the civil rights movements with the death of Emmett Till. He explained how this movement is continuing today, and how he participated at the largest sit-in at Cleveland State University to protest only one out of every hundred African American students graduating.

Rev. Childs believes the generation before millennials has done them a disservice by not passing on what was given to them. The millennials are walking down the same path without being able to follow anyone’s footsteps, and yet, so much is asked of them. The younger generation is out making a difference in the community, but they do not have as much support from their predecessors. Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 26 years old when he began protesting, which is, as Rev. Childs noted, very close to the age of many college students. It is the young people who inspire others and bring people closer together. Rev. Childs concluded his speech by asserting that millennials are those who are supposed to shake and move our society in the right direction. 

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