Students, staff honor MLK

Nathan Kober, Staff Writer

Speakers addressed American progress since the Civil Rights era in “A Reflection of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Vision” at the 31st annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Event on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at the University Center Hamilton Room.

After a weather delay, the commemoration began with the UW-W Gospel Choir, who gave renditions of gospel songs, including “I Want Jesus to Walk With Me” and “Freedom.”

Cedric Hoard, a graduate student, gave a spoken word piece questioning whether America has lived up to the legacy and promises of King and the Civil Rights movement.

“It’s sad to say, but do we treat Martin Luther King as a symbol of security?” Hoard said, “Do we use him as a scapegoat to say we have made progress, to shield us from the reality of now?”

Keynote speaker Dextra Hadnot spoke in a similar theme, asking whether America has drifted away from King’s message and started losing its humanity.

“As we talk about Martin Luther King I want us to be inspired about not just the legacy of who [he was] but of the work that there is still to be done,” Hadnot said.

While Hadnot alluded to conflicts in society that turn people against each other, he did not specifically mention any major current events in his address. Instead, Hadnot said the biggest problem facing America is complacency.

“It’s become too easy to look at a problem and say ‘let someone else take care of it’ all while the problems keep growing,” Hadnot said, “It’s a lingering theme from back in King’s time that we all have to deal with today.”

Hoard and Hadnot both lead calls to action, saying Americans need to become more involved in their communities.

Hadnot is the Director of Government Affairs for AT&T Wisconsin. Outside of his work in business Hadnot is also a community organizer and advocate for education reform in Milwaukee County.

In his address Hadnot spoke about the spiritual message of King. As an ordained reverend with a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies, Hadnot has worked with church organizations including the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Milwaukee.

The event was facilitated by Jacob Gritzmacher, who coordinates the King/Chavez Scholars Program, designed to help first generation/low income students.