Alpha Mu hosts annual Martin Luther King Jr. candlelight vigil


Joshua Hoffman/The Daily Northwestern

Panelists discuss black progress at the Martin Luther King Day candlelight vigil.

Yunkyo Kim, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern’s Alpha Mu Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity hosted its 41st annual candlelight vigil in honor of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this Monday at Alice Millar Chapel.

“Without the valiant and resolute minds of Dr. King and those akin, most of us wouldn’t be where we are today,” Alpha Mu chapter president Adam Montgomery said in the chapter welcome. “We set aside this day to acknowledge Dr. King’s dream.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Day nationally commemorates the birthday and legacy of Dr. King, one of the most recognized leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. King was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the largest black fraternity in the nation.

The vigil signals the beginning of the MLK Dream Week, NU’s celebration of black history through public events, lectures, discussions, service initiatives and art showings. Additional programming for this year includes a forthcoming keynote address by #MeToo founder, activist and educator Tarana Burke.

Attended by a diverse cohort of students and local residents, the vigil included performances by the Northwestern Community Ensemble, a spoken word performance by poet and educator Timothy Mays and a panel of activists, former legislators, nonprofit organizers and educators titled “Dr. King’s Beloved Community: Where Are We Now?”

Weinberg senior Bidemi Godo, a member of the Community Ensemble, said the student gospel group performs at the vigil every year. This year the ensemble sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and two other songs that do not only commemorate black history in art form but also look forward to the future of progress, Godo said.

“Black history doesn’t come in one form,” Godo said. “I just think it adds another element to the event that represents how that history is celebrated, not just during Black History Month, but every day out of the year.”

Shea McHenry, a McCormick junior at the event, said she was compelled to attend because she respected King’s legacy. The event illustrates the importance of those with marginalized identities continuing to support each other on campus, McHenry said.

“It’s important to remember that not just African Americans, but other minorities are fighting for people at Northwestern,” McHenry said.

Godson Osele, vice president of Alpha Mu and a McCormick junior said it was essential for organizations to honor King and black history on a campus like Northwestern’s.

Osele also discusses the importance of remembering the “ones that came before us,” as the history is passed on to future generations. A part of that, he said, was being adamant about the critical roles of black students on campus, and “what we do and who we are.”

“A big, big thing we have been talking about being at a (predominantly white institution) and being a black person is that understanding (that) our voice needs to be heard,” Osele said.

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