Gannon honors Martin Luther King Jr.

Gannon University commemorated the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day by participating in several events including a service project, prayer service and the city-wide memorial march.

Arlene Montevecchio, the director for the Center for Social Concerns, said the day started with 21 Gannon community members gathering school supplies in the Upper Lounge of the Waldron Campus Center to bring to the Martin Luther King Center, which provides after-school activities for children. She said about $600 was raised in school supplies.

“We had never done a service project before, so it was sort of like our trial,” she said. “I think it was one of our most successful.”

About 150 people gathered for the prayer service, hosted by the Student Government Association, that took place at 11 a.m. in the Mary, Seat of Wisdom Chapel.

Siobhan Brown, a sophomore secondary education major, said she did a reading of King’s words at the service and part of this message really struck her.

“He said that he will never adjust himself to the violence and discrimination,” she said. “I loved that he used the word ‘adjust’ because that means being tolerant and doing nothing to stop what we know is wrong.”

Brown also participated in the city-wide memorial march which took place at noon. Montevecchio said 50 members of the Gannon community marched from Perry Square to the Martin Luther King Center at 312 Chestnut St.

Brown said she decided to join the march because she had never before done anything to commemorate the day.

She said the experience was rewarding because she was able to see people of different races, genders, age and social classes come together, and she could socialize with people she hadn’t before and may have even judged.

“I like to think that I am open to everyone, but sometimes you have stereotypes that you didn’t even know you had about other people,” she said. “I think Dr. King would be proud of me for having this realization and breaking down the barriers of discrimination.”

Beth Gaertner, a senior communications major, also participated in the prayer service and memorial march. She said the march was a symbol of the community coming together.

Gaertner participated in the event for the fourth time this year. She said she started because she had never had an outlet to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day before.

She said the relatively good weather – compared to years past – and the high spirits of participants made it a memorable day. Gannon students got involved in chants about peace, unity and encouraging people to register to vote, led by a Gannon alumnus. She said the brothers of Pi Kappa Alpha were especially invested in cheering.

Gaertner said the message of the day was unity, and this is a message she thinks should be spread year round.

“Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a continuation of doing what we do every day,” she said. “We should not just set aside one day to acknowledge unity.”

Another event on the day’s schedule was a voter registration project held from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Waldron Campus Center.

Ashley Malinowski, a freshman journalism communications major, helped work the registration table, which she heard about in her government class. At the time she was interviewed, she had been there for about 10 minutes and had helped register five people.

Malinowski said registering people to vote is an important part of honoring Martin Luther King Jr. because it shows that now anyone has the right to affect their government. Brown said she learned about the importance of affecting social change from the day’s activities.

“Dr. King’s words taught me to speak out,” she said. “He taught me not be an ostrich with its head in the sand, ignoring and being complacent to what I know I can strive to change.”

TESSY PAWLOWSKI

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