By Ace Vela Robbins
Grand Rapids Community College students, faculty and members of the community gathered inside the Ford Fieldhouse Monday to remember a man whose dream reshaped a nation and touched the hearts of millions.
Hundreds of people came to the assembly held in Martin Luther King Jr.’s honor, organized by the GRCC Black Student Union. The event was to include a silent peace march that was canceled due to inclement weather.
“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” said speaker Stan Greene, 52, who recited King’s famous speech.
After the speech, the Northview Varsity Voices Choir from Northview High School performed, followed by a large group of fifth grade singers from William C. Abney Academy.
Next, fifth grade student Diajon Miller read an essay he wrote about the inspiration he’s received from two men, Martin Luther King Jr. and his former teacher, Mr. Cook, who recently passed a way. The essay was featured in the opinion section of the Grand Rapids Press.
The final choral performances were by GRCC’s College Choir and Concert Choir. Each transition was filled with music from the GRCC Jazz Ensemble.
Several of the attendees were asked about their thoughts on King’s legacy.
“He’s somebody to look up to, like Diajon Miller said about being a hero,” said Ryan Abbasse, staff member of William C. Abney Academy, one of the schools at the assembly. ”If you believe in something and you work hard, you can strive to do whatever you want to.”
“It represents unity amongst people and the struggle of connecting diverse groups of people,” said GRCC student Gillian Giem, 18.
“It represents a time to bring the community together as a whole and to celebrate his life and his legacy and to bring children of all ages and schools together,” said Liz Tyrell, the GRCC Student Life event coordinator.
Charles Wells, GRCC athletic director, reflected on how King’s words put society into action.
“To me, it was a time period in life where things change to where access was given to everyone,” Wells said.
Greene believes it’s time to put King’s words to use today.
“It represents an opportunity for us to be reminded that there is work for us still to do,” Greene said. “If Martin Luther King was alive today, I think he would ask us why we’re still reciting a 50-year-old speech and he would challenge us to get out and get busy.”