Local universities honor Martin Luther King Jr., reflect on recent events

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)- The University of Evansville usually honored Martin Luther King Jr. Day with ringing in the last mile in a march challenge, followed by a celebration that honored the man himself. The University of Southern Indiana also honored MLK Jr. with different activities people could attend. But Ronald Rochon, the university’s president, said this year looked a little different in terms of celebrating. Our 2020 started off with the COVID-19 pandemic that still lives on in our lives daily.

“This virtual gathering is a little different. But the celebration is that we’re still here,” Rochon said.

UE’s president, Chris Pietruszkiewicz, said the COVID-19 pandemic is not the only thing everyone is still tackling. Over the last year, Black Lives Matter protests and recent chaos seen at the U.S. Capitol have made headlines.

“What happened two weeks ago, or almost two weeks ago, is very influential in terms of what we think about in a sense of urgency. Also, thinking about what Dr. King was asking us to do many many years ago- we still haven’t quite fully grasped,” Pietruszkiewicz said.

Which left speakers and administrators with both universities reflecting on what King’s message truly was. Keynote speaker at UE, Karith Foster, took a moment to call to action what everyone needs to take away from him.

“He left us a blueprint, right? A blueprint that we now get to follow to bring people together to create a world where hate does have no home,” Foster said.

Rochon said it all starts with people making adjustments in their daily lives. Their actions, thoughts, and behaviors could create a world with no hate.

“Find a way in which we can be ambassadors and representatives of what it means to be connected to King,” Rochon said.

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(This story was originally published on January 18, 2021)

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