Week of events celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.

2015 Unity March Photo credit: Keith Brenton, WCU News

A photo from last year’s (2015) Unity March. Photo credit: Keith Brenton, WCU News

A Unity March around Western Carolina University’s campus will kick off a week of events to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his day, Monday, Jan 18.
The Unity March, which will begin with a presentation in the University Center Multipurpose room at 5 p.m., is a tradition that the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity has put on since at least 1984. The march is not only to commemorate an important civil rights activist, but also to educate and unify the campus, according to Kham Ward, director of Intercultural Affairs.

“Everybody can march for a cause around social justice,” he said. And while “individual marches might not have the same cause, under the same umbrella we can march in unity.”

Steven Hardge, Alpha Phi Alpha brother and Unity March Chair, says a march in relation to MLK can “open the discussion” centered around why marching in unity for civil rights is still necessary. This is proven by recent nationwide events, such as the 2015 protests at the University of Missouri.   

There are other events scheduled throughout the week, including Wednesday, Jan. 20, when Ms. Carlotta Walls LaNier will come to the UC Grand Room. LaNier was the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine, the group of students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957.  She will offer insight to the past and a bridge between the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the current civil rights movement. The event will start at 6:30 p.m.

There will also be two service learning opportunities during the week: one on Monday, Jan. 18 and one on Saturday, Jan. 23.  Students can contact the Center for Service Learning to sign up.