Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream message, as interpreted by Mason students and faculty, was the center piece of Tuesday night’s Evening of Reflection event, hosted by the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education (ODIME) and the MLK planning commitee. The night commemorated King’s life, legacy and his dream.

“[The MLK Planning Commitee] want[s] you to appreciate the legacy you have been given, and it is an unearned legacy,” said Dr. Wendi Manuel-Scott, director of African American Studies, in her official welcome speech. “We want you to consider that it is only through your commitment to making a difference today and tomorrow and the next day that you earn your legacy.”

The night kept a humble pulse as several presenters spoke about their admiration of King. The presenters included university president Angel Cabrera, Manuel-Scott, Dr. Marquita Chamblee, director of ODIME and the Annointed Vessels of Unity student gospel choir. 

“From the welcome to the closing remarks – stories were told, music was sang, questions were asked, people were charged with tasks – to help attendees reflect on the work of Dr. King and their own contributions,” said Walter P. Parrish, assistant director of ODIME.

All three guest speakers emphasized the legacy the King and other civil rights activists left behind, that Manuel-Scott said is “a legacy freely given.” 

Cabrera said during his address, “somehow, what at the time seemed impossible, now seems inevitable,” reinforcing Manuel-Scott’s pervious statement of King’s legacy being under appreciated.

To exemplify King’s impact on the world, Cabrera gave a personal annecdote about what his childhood would have been like if he had lived in the same circumstances as King did. He spoke theoretically about how he could have been a 10-year-old in Spain finding out about class structures the same way that King at that age experienced race distinction, segregation and discrimination. 

Cabrera also mentioned the importance of the 250,000 other civil rights activists who were as strong leaders as King because “knowing when to follow is a form of leadership,” encouraging the audience to take part in fighting the injustices in the world, because of the power of leading by following. 
The Spirit of King Awards were presented to seniors Anartia Gamboa and Johnetta Saygbe for service to others and furthering King’s dream. The award is presented annually to a student and a faculty member. This year, no faculty member was nominated therefore the committee decided to award two students. The other nominees were Charles Coats, Mark Richards, Mirella Saldana-Moreno, A-Jay Sorrell and Jorge Velasquez.

The annual event was held in Dewberry Hall and hosted 125 attendees. The crowd consisted of both students and faculty. The evening was hosted by junior government and international politics major Ebonie Gibbs and junior psychology major Montrel Tennessee.
“Events such as the MLK Evening of Reflection are important because we need to keep reminding ourselves of how we got to where we are,” Parrish said. “It is important to reflect on the past in order to recognize and appreciate the present, and plan for a better future. Events such as this is a vehicle to educate.”