At 8 a.m., guests began to trickle in to the IU Auditorium foyer, full of banquet tables covered in white tablecloths with red and white floral centerpieces.
Deloice Holliday and Kathy Smith, co-chairs of the 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Commission, stood at the podium at 8:30 a.m. to welcome guests.
After an invocation by William Wiggins Jr., professor emeritus in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, guests were dismissed by table to get breakfast from buffet tables in the next room.
Guests at the breakfast included IU and Ivy Tech Community College students, as well as community representatives and IU administrators.
Program coordinator Roberta Radovich said that due to the limited seating, attendees were required to reserve a seat before the meeting. Faculty members and selected city members were invited by the Celebration Commission, and interested students called ahead to reserve seats, she said.
“We don’t do a mass invitation to students, but all the activities are free and open to the public,” Radovich said.
Smith said she thinks it is important to commemorate King’s legacy, and having the leadership breakfast is part of IU’s recognition of King.
“He would frequently have a prayer breakfast before he went out to do his work. We honor him in having that ourselves and prefacing the day’s activities with something that brings us all together in a community,” she said.
Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel opened the ceremony with a quote from King: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Senior political science major Alicia Nieves, winner of the undergraduate division of the annual essay contest, read her essay to the crowd. In it, she linked King’s civil rights movement to the current movement of undocumented immigrants.
Matthew Pfaff, who won in the graduate division, was at a student conference in Spain and was unavailable to present his essay.
The breakfast included recognition of Building Bridges award winners. In his introduction of the winners, Celebration Commission Vice Chair David Hummons said that these awards went to people who were nominated because they embodied King’s passion for empowerment and social justice.
Cameray Boyden won in the undergraduate student category, Samantha Schalk won in the graduate category and Kevin Brown won in the faculty category.
The Bloomington chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority won in the community category.
Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs Ed Marshall delivered the closing remarks.
“I think that it’s important that we use this day as a catalyst,” he said. “It’s nice to focus a day on volunteer service, but we need to take that to tomorrow and the tomorrows after it. We need to make a career of humanity, not just focus on one day and one speech, but use that to re-energize us as we go forward.”
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