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Students and staff celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.

Tammi Kolesinski

Tammi Kolesinski

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Over 300 people gathered on Jan. 19 in the Recital Hall at Cosumnes River College to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

“The purpose of this event is to honor and celebrate the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and be able to know and understand the legacy he has provided to us and the world,” said CRC President Deborah Travis.

Dean of Student Services Mike Marion, who organized the event, said it was a great opportunity during the first week of school to pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

“It was kind of a welcome back to students during their first week of school,” Marion said.

This was the first year that CRC hosted an event honoring the civil rights activist, Marion said.

“I want students to understand the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. and to be able to come together,” Marion said.

Marion also said he wants to continue the event for years to come.

Jeffrey Kelly, a 21-year-old criminal justice major, said he was very interested in attending the event because he realizes the importance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

“It’s a very historical day for African-Americans and blacks to come to together and know our history and understand how we are here and free,” Kelly said.

At the beginning of the event, special guest Marvin Sanders read from Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The audience was quiet until the end of the speech, when they recited the words “Free at least! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” along with Sanders and cheered afterwards.

The audience then rose to their feet and joined CRC radio professor B.J. Snowden in singing “Lift Every Voice.”

The commemoration also featured Footworks, a dance team of 22 students from Valley High School.

Xanthi Pinkerton, who teaches English, Spanish and dance at Valley High School, said Marion asked them if they wanted to help celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.

“We were delighted to be invited to this community event,” Pinkerton said.

The purpose of the performance, Pinkerton said, was to tell the story of segregation.

“Through dance, they want to try to break down barriers and come together as a unified front,” Pinkerton said.

Footworks performed to the Beatles’ “Help” and a soulful rendition of “This Little Light of Mine.” They wore t-shirts of various colors, including orange, white, black, purple, pink and green.

The team moved and swayed effortlessly across the stage, portraying themes of segregation, unity and individuality.

Allison Chap, 20, a nursing major, came to the event because she recognizes the impact Martin Luther King Jr. had on the world.

“He made a difference to the world,” Chap said. “Look at us now. Look at this room. Look at all the races that are here. That’s what he did.”

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Students and staff celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.