Unity Walk, wreath laying kick off Dream Week


Angel Clara Ukwitegyetse

Jose Torres, education junior, Christopher Cruz, theater junior, and Management Information Systems junior, Jesse Jones lead the Unity Walk through the campus.

The first campus-wide Unity Walk began and ended at the campus’ historical marker in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. laid in February of 1991 at the Sunwatcher Plaza. It reads, “With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, August 1963.”

“The goal of the Unity Walk this year was to get more students involved and get people aware,” said management information systems senior and office of equity, inclusion and multicultural affairs student ambassador, Jamilah Kangudja. “You know we have that break off of school and people usually only use it to have a break to catch up on things but, nobody really celebrates it and knows what the meaning of it is. So, it’s great that kicking back off school we have this going on [on Tuesday].”

The Unity Walk and wreath laying was the first in a series of events being held for Dream Week, hosted by the Cross Cultural Council. The effort was initiated through a conversation with the Student Government Association and other student leaders who wanted to project a message of unity and inclusion on campus.

According to Syreeta Greene, director of equity, inclusion and multicultural affairs, it is also in response to some of the leaflets that were found last semester and over the last few years that represent hate messages and organizations that support those type of messages.

“This is a collaborative effort…” Greene said. “This Unity Walk is just an opportunity to exercise publicly espousing our values as an institution [and] as members of this community, as well as making sure that we are working towards building a more inclusive campus.”

Similarly, the students participating in the Unity Walk found it especially necessary to be present and vocal about King’s legacy given today’s climate.

Ryan Kelly, political science freshman said, “I joined the Unity Walk just due to the fact that today a lot of things are swept under the rug and you know, we are going through a big thing with the government shut down right now with Trump wanting to build a wall and being determined to build that wall… We have to understand that there are bigger forces at play and we have to include everybody in what we [consider] inclusion here in America. I feel like we would be hypocrites if we did something like [put up] a wall to keep people who just want to come here to have a better life out.”

This campus is, in some ways, a very reflection of the dream of equality held by King seeing as nearly 47 percent of MSU students are non-white with a representation of 44 states and 54 foreign countries as whole.

“MSU is a very diverse campus, we have people [here] from all different walks of life, different countries and different regions,” said SGA vice president and criminal justice senior, Preston Busby. “Part of Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision was equality and unity for all so I think for us… not just physically showing that but making conscious efforts to exhibit that really speaks volumes for the campus and the students here.”

Although the crowd may have been thin, students like Jernelle Jon Baptist, management information systems senior, found this to be a proud mustang moment.

“It’s important to have [this] on campus, especially [here] where a lot of African-American students may sometimes find it hard [to fit] in because they are still the minority. I think it’s good to have a dream week so therefore they can find a way to identify. And also seeing that dream week has certain organizations involved in it, they can also find a way to connect on campus and feel more at home at MSU,” said Baptist

King’s message of activism and unity is not completely lost on the student body and will continue to be honored on campus throughout the rest of Dream Week.

Angel Clara Ukwitegyetse
Keith Lamb, vice president for student affairs, Anissa Jones, exercise physiology senior, Taylor Barrnett, mass communication senior, and Syreeta Green, director of the office of equity, inclusion and multicultural affairs take part in the Unity Walk around campus.

Attendee Comments

“For me it means more than just having that day off. He paved a way, essentially, for us. He fought for us in any way that he could.” | Jamilah Kangudja, exercise physiology senior

“I think it’s a day not only to remember all that he did but to remember [the] dreams and goals that he had for us, for the community, and [for] the world really and try to look at it and apply it to our lives right now… make that change that he wanted to see in the world to make sure that that growth continues.” | Taylor Barnett, mass communication senior

“For me personally, it is an opportunity to remember the activism and his call to justice for the many injustices and inequalities that were being experienced not just by African Americans but other groups around this country. I wholeheartedly believe that his message was powerful and that it is still relevant and valid today.” | Syreeta Greene, Office of Equity, inclusion and multicultural affairs director

“MLK was an amazing man. I love learning about my history and my culture especially being an African American woman. He had such a great impact on our society and he did so many amazing things and helped everyone. He has helped so many people and they don’t even really think about him on an every day basis but I have to be thankful and think about him every single day because he’s made such a great impact.” | Cameron Carter, radiology freshman

“The significance of Martin Luther King day for me, goes back to my grandpa who was a civil rights activist in Waco, Texas and actually marched with Dr. King in DC. He fought in World War II… lived a long life and I feel like he left a legacy for his great grand kids. They [both] left a legacy behind that I feel like I have to keep pushing forward. The work still isn’t done and it won’t [ever] be done. You’ve just got to keep working.” | Ryan Kelly, political science freshman

“For me personally because I’m not from America, I’m actually from the Caribbean, the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. [day] is basically knowing that he fought for a dream and as an international student it shows me that I too can fight for my dreams and I too can try my best to pursue my dreams here at Midwestern. I like the whole connection between MKL day and Midwestern and what we are doing here.” | Jernelle Jon Baptist, management information systems senior

“This day means acknowledging a man who was selfless, who put his own needs behind and put a community’s needs, what people needed in front. He was willing to risk his life and put his life on hold for others.” | Preston Busby, criminal justice senior

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story we stated that Jernelle Jon Baptist was a mission information systems senior. This was incorrect The Wichitan regrets this error.