MLK Day event celebrates diversity and progress

On Jan. 18, SVSU held its 12th annual Great Lakes Bay Regional Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was hosted online instead of at SVSU’s Malcolm Field Theatre, as it has been in past years.

Because of its virtual nature, the event had no capacity limits. The event was free for anyone to attend, with registration available through the Diversity Office webpage on the SVSU website.

This year, SVSU invited Van Jones, a political commentator who frequently appears on national television programs, to be the keynote speaker.

“We wanted to invite a public figure with a passion for building bridges between diverse communities,” said Mamie T. Thorns, SVSU’s Chief Diversity Officer. “Van Jones fit this profile perfectly based on his background working with U.S. presidents on these issues and based on his role as a TV political talk show guest who addresses this challenging topic.”

In his speech, Jones explained that the new generation is still dealing with the challenges that King faced.

“Because of all that (King) went through, a vision was forged through him that we are still trying to carry out,” Jones said.

Jones explained that it is possible to bring people together and heal the divisions running rampant in our nation. The only way to get there, he said, is to use the principles King laid down.

He also said we must find empathy and common ground in order to grow.

“We must use our differences constructively,” Jones said. “We can do all these things nonviolently … based upon the idea of equal votes and equal soul. We have to listen like King, which is necessary.”

Jones tells us to not only look at Black history but look forward to the Black future as King encouraged America.

Jones described it as using King’s work as a springboard to help move up to the next level. He said to make progress people need to keep protesting and doing the things they did in the past, but also harness new actions, like becoming entrepreneurs and using outlets like social media.

Jones said events such as this one serve to help unify people for a common cause.

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