The Kappa Tau chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity held a vigil Wednesday night in the Kansas State Student Union Ballroom to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., who was a member of the fraternity.
“As you all know, we don’t just celebrate Dr. King on (Jan. 16), but we take an entire week out to celebrate Dr. King,” Brandon Clark, Alpha Phi Alpha advisor and program coordinator in the Office of Diversity, said.
The vigil featured keynote speaker the Rev. Roderick Houston, former Kansas state representative. Houston said King established the foundation of modern civil rights.
“We have to be a resilient people of will and continue the legacy that Dr. King set up,” Houston said. “We talk about witnessing the dream—every last one of you are called to be a part of the dream that he had, and what we’ve got to do is stand up and be a voice for a people who have been silenced by all of the other things that are taking place around us.”
Houston addressed several modern political issues, including state voter identification law, the expiration of state universities’ exemption from concealed carry laws and the presidency of Donald Trump.
“We look at the current status of our people, and we continue to see that we still have to fight for our rights in our lives,” Houston said. “Even though we’ve come a long way, we cannot let our guard down, because the struggle is not over.”
Houston said change starts with protest but occurs through the voting booth.
“It’s time to stop protesting and doing nothing,” Houston said. “If you’re going to protest, then do something about it. Get up and make a move, get up and let people know that you mean what you say, and that it’s OK if you kneel during the Star-Spangled Banner, but after you kneel during the Star-Spangled Banner, you have to go to the voting box. Cast your ballot and let them know that we need some real change taking place in this country.”
During the program, Zanaiya Peebles, freshman in biology, sang a song alongside a video that included scenes from civil rights protests and footage of police brutality. After Houston’s speech, members of Alpha Phi Alpha lit candles in memory of King’s work.
Antonio Carter, sophomore in mechanical engineering and president of the K-State chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, said he hoped attendees took away a better understanding of the legacy of King’s work.
“Having this vigil annually helps us remember the work that Dr. King did and also the work that still has to be done in regards to civil human rights,” Carter said. “I hope everyone is reminded that although his work took place about 50 years ago, it doesn’t mean that it stops or that it should be forgotten.”
Ericka Woods, freshman in accounting, said she felt inspired by Houston’s speech.
“It was amazing,” Woods said. “I didn’t know Martin Luther King Jr. was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, and the words that the pastor brought were great. It was definitely inspirational, and I’ll always stay hopeful for civil rights and remain positive.”
After the ceremony, attendees socialized and drank hot chocolate, served by students from the Staley School of Leadership studies.