Martin Luther King III speaks on social change, equality at K-State

Proceeding from Forum Hall at the K-State Student Union, Martin Luther King III speaks with his fraternity brothers from Alpha Phi Alpha after his lecture. Martin Luther King III helped Kansas State University celebrate on Thursday the 50th aniv. of the original visit of his father and for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Week (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Fifty years after Martin Luther King Jr. addressed Kansas State, his eldest son gave spoke in Forum Hall at the Student Union on Thursday.

Adrian Rodriguez, associate vice president for student life for diversity and multicultural student affairs, said the “momentous occasion” is a “true celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.”

Like his father, King said he believed in taking a moral high road to “prioritize kindness” when dealing with violent adversaries.

“Human beings are capable of great kindness,” King said. “It’s an innate value that nearly all people have inside of them. Now tolerance, on the other hand, that’s a little more challenging. Tolerance can be a struggle for all of us.”

One of the most prominent issues King discussed was voting reform to promote voter turnout.

“I do believe that we have got to do more to encourage everyone to vote and to eliminate the barriers, both legal and illegal, that discourage and prevent citizens from exercising their right to vote,” King said.

Thurman Williams, administrative assistant for the dean of engineering, said he found King’s speech to be very relevant to the level of discourse present in modern politics.

“I think that for a lot of people, it was really personal,” Williams said. “I thought a lot people took a lot of power in what he said.”

Directly following the lecture and a brief question and answer session. King’s father’s fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, led the audience in a candlelight vigil for memory, solidarity, love, repentance, hope, thankfulness and commitment.

Those who were present at Forum Hall for the lecture as well as those who were viewing it in the overflow areas were encouraged to attend the formal Laying of the Wreaths ceremony. The ceremony, which was held on the corner of Ahearn Field, progressed in front of the memorial bust of Martin Luther King Jr.

To begin the ceremony, Alpha Phi Alpha led the community in the official hymn of the fraternity. Beginning with the Office of the President and the Office of the Provost, administrative offices as well as Alpha Phi Alpha and Alpha Kappa Alpha laid wreaths by departments.

After the procession, there was a moment of silence as well as a closing prayer from Pastor Sterling Hudgins.

The free event was available to the public. Overflow areas were available in the Union Courtyard as well as in the K-State Alumni Center.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.