By Sebastian Moronta Blanco, Staff Writer
On Friday, February 3, UMass Dartmouth remembered civil rights leader and cultural icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with the breakfast held in the Woodland Commons.
This is the event’s 15th annual breakfast, involving a buffet, assorted musical selections, and a guest speaker.
Sofia Reppucci, senior student and President of the Student Government Association, began the event and introduced the D’Sword Choir before their performance of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Students, faculty, alumni, and community members filled the Woodland Commons, proving a remark in Interim Chancellor Helm’s address that tickets were in short supply to attend the event.
This was in part because of this year’s keynote speaker, Donovan Livingston, a famous educator, poet and prominent civil rights activist.
Interim Chancellor Helm introduced the keynote speaker after a few remarks, most notable of which was a moment the Chancellor took to address the two UMass Dartmouth professors affected by President Trump’s executive order on immigration.
He apologized to them on behalf of the country, and the entire room stood and applauded in solidarity with the staff members.
The Interim Chancellor spoke to Donovan Livingston’s impact as a public speaker.
His speech at the Harvard Convocation offered a pointed analysis of the American education system, motivating students to become the leaders and drivers of sweeping reform to achieve greater change.
Livingston received national attention after he gave a powerful Convocation speech to the Harvard School of Education this past May, and has since appeared on several news programs and talk shows.
He holds master’s degrees from both Columbia University, as well as Harvard, and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina.
Livingston addressed the room with an energy and a vigor scarcely found in this most divisive time in the U.S.
His passion for Dr. King is deeply rooted in his personal and family history, which he demonstrated through stories of watching the Spike Lee biography of Malcom X in theaters at the age of 5, and through his spoken word poem titled “Jus’ Like Yo Momma” about his mother’s journey through the Civil Rights Movement.
He hailed Dr. King as the ultimate model for a movement, emulating the non-violent practices of Mahatma Ghandi, a civil rights leader whom Dr. King and Livingston alike revered.
“Dr. King’s teachings,” Livingston remarked, “are all too relevant today.”
While he spoke of cultural and systemic racism and the struggles the Black community faces to this day, his upbeat and positive attitude stood to motivate each audience member in the room not to lose faith.
He encouraged event goers not to lose hope , and that justice will come to all members of society.
Livingston received a standing ovation, and the event was concluded after a reading of Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech by the president of the Class of 2017 and of the Black Student Union, Andrea Moore.
Shortly after, Deborah Salami, senior and president of the African Student Association, performed the National Anthem to close out the ceremony.