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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices

Black Voices: The Conscious Lee illuminates the legacy of MLK 

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This past week, IU celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day by holding honorary events around campus. With the day off school and work, many Hoosiers also participated in community service. The CommUNITY Education Program (CUE) hosted its “Serving Love and Justice: An MLK Jr. Tribute Dinner” with free food and keynote speaker George Lee Jr., also known as The Conscious Lee on social media platforms. Lee provided a new, in- depth insight on King and what he stood for during his time as a social activist.  

“I wanted to see people come together from various backgrounds to come and engage with someone who I follow on social media,” Tatum said. “He really transformed the way that I go about thinking about things, so I wanted others to gain that as well.” 

Lee is a social media content creator who focuses on the importance of educating people on the issues and problems that are in today’s society. 

Escarvar Tatum, assistant coordinator for diversity education, said the turnout was better than expected, especially with weather being below 10 degrees. 

The CUE Program is an educational organization focused on shaping the IU residential environment to be a place of learning and growth related to identity, diversity, inclusion and social justice. A CommUNITY educator creates and implements educational experiences for residents on IU’s campus through bulletin boards, events and virtual posts. 

Junior CUE educator Anna Filoso said The Conscious Lee presentation enabled her to see a new side of King and the day we honor him. 

“Due to the nature of my job as a CUE, I knew some of the lesser known history about MLK,” Filoso said. “But the idea of agape love is something completely new to me and it was a completely different side of MLK that I have never seen before.” 

Lee said he feels the impact of today’s event won’t be conclusive for another month or two, presenting Britannica’s definition of agape love as “...the fatherly love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God. It’s the highest form of love, it's a selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love; persists no matter the circumstances.” 

Lee’s motto is “Education is Elevation.” He said this event was affirming and motivating for him. 

“I think that I was empowered by how engaging y’all was and that y’all was able to ask me questions that forced me to be knocked back on my heels and really think about what’s really being asked,” he said. 

In his speech, Lee discussed how King “believed the realization of the beloved community hinged upon the practice of nonviolence.” He said King understood that individual transformation and systemic change could build a community of nonviolence. 

IU sophomore Chris Buck said his big takeaway was gaining a more knowledgeable perspective on King and learning how to use his influence as a leader within the Black Student Union, Black Men Evolve and Mu Beta Lambda Business Fraternity Inc. to better the community. After learning about agape love, Buck has a newer aspect of love. 

“It’s a more potent version of love,” Buck said. “And not like the one we kind of makeup in our heads.”  

Filoso said this event expanded how she sees King and the work he and other activists did during the Civil Rights Movement.  

“It’s important at the end of the day that you have compassion for everybody,” Filoso said. “And that you give more than you receive, and I also think it’s important to tell the true side of history and not get caught up in what you were taught to believe and that you do your own research.” 

Buck said his view of MLK Day has evolved. He realizes the holiday is more than just a day off. Now, he plans to devote the day to community-forward actions. 

“It’s so much more than service or saying ‘Happy Martin Luther King Day,’” Buck said. “It’s like living his vision through the actions that you do.” 

Buck wasn’t the only person who gained a new admiration and understanding of King and his philosophy.  

“My big takeaway was standing on business out of love,” Tatum said.

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