Brandeis properly honors Martin Luther King Day with the arts

January 22, 2016

It did not take long after Ford Hall 2015 for the student body to reunite again to talk about race, progress and representation. Brandeis University’s 11th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial took place on Monday, Jan. 18, in the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC).

The event presented various Brandeis scholars, such as Nyah Macklin ’16, Makalani Na’im Mack ’16, Marcelo Brociner ’18, orators Amaris Brown ’16, Queen White ’16 and Bronte Velez ’16, hip hop dance group Kaos Kids and Platinum Step Team.

Some of the highlights were Kaos Kids and Platinum Step Team, who had special numbers prepared to commemorate the occasion. Platinum even recited lines of poetry about freedom and being chained and restrained.

In addition, Boston Tap Company made an appearance that left everyone at edge of their seats. Their well-choreographed routines made people cheer and rejoice.

The event also welcomed Emmy Award-winning television news journalist Clennon L. King, who introduced the special film screening and answered follow-up questions. He spent nearly a decade reporting in the Sunbelt before venturing into the world of documentary filmmaking. Last February, Clennon produced a documentary called “Passage at St. Augustine” about the Civil Rights Movement, which was shown at the event.

The idea for the documentary first came to him during his time reporting in Jacksonville, where he became curious about the little-known St. Augustine Civil Rights Movement. The documentary tells the story of the bloodiest campaign of the Civil Rights Movement, where the Klan and the Movement fought about the Civil Rights Bill. Fifty years have passed, and the film visits the same place, transporting the audience back to those times of battle. The film lets viewers hear from the veterans on both sides of the front (Civil Rights advocates and Klansmen). Along with the never-before-heard sides of the story, the voices of Lyndon B. Johnson, MLK, Andrew Young and the late Brandeis professor Rabbi Leon Jick also tell a poignant and compelling story.

The film “Passage at St. Augustine” has allowed the creation of a constructive conversation about race and race relations. It even went on to win the Henry Hampton Award of Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking at the 2015 Roxbury International Film Festival.

The event brought the same driving passion and belief that the students put into last November’s Ford Hall protest, which resulted in a positive response and support from both the student body and faculty. It also made an impact in the Brandeis community, making every single individual more aware of a problem that is occurring on virtually every college campus across America: lack of representation.

Yes, there could be a lack of representation; however, during the event, which drew people from all kinds of backgrounds, there seemed to be an understanding for how important it is to remember our history and how important it is to remember that, as a society, we have a long way to go.