ASU West campus holds MLK speech re-enactment, draws enthusiasm from young crowd

Video by Sean Logan | Multimedia Producer

Middle school students from all over the west Valley held signs and chanted “freedom,” much like their predecessors did 50 years ago, as Emmy award-winning actor Charles St. Clair re-enacted Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech Wednesday morning at the West campus.

The annual March on West was hosted just days after ASU faced scrutiny because of Tau Kappa Epsilon’s MLK-themed party that was deemed a “minstrel show” by civil rights leader Rev. Jarrett Maupin.

MLK March on West committee member LaKina Curry said the students represented the eight major cities that were significant to the civil rights movement.

“There are around 180 students for every city,” she said. “They all made signs to represent their city.”

Students who participated received study guides over their winter break so they would come to the march informed, prepared and involved.

Committee member Marley Trump greeted the crowd. She said that although King’s dreams were being fulfilled, they weren’t entirely there yet.

“You have a role to play,” she said. “You are our future.”

Toting protest signs and smiles, hundreds of elementary students gather at ASU’s West Campus on Wednesday Jan. 22 to reenact MLK's "I Have a Dream Speech" that took place over half a century ago in the nations capital. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

Toting protest signs and smiles, hundreds of elementary students gather at ASU’s West Campus on Wednesday Jan. 22 to reenact MLK’s “I Have a Dream Speech” that took place over half a century ago in the nations capital. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

St. Clair re-enacted King’s speech in its entirety for the 23rd consecutive year. Although his intensity caused him to lose his voice, his impression didn’t have any less of an impact.

Duku Anokye, professor of Africana language, literature and culture, said she remembers her role during the civil rights movement 50 years ago.

“I wasn’t at the March on Washington, but it was a march he had a few weeks before in Detroit,” she said. “I was involved in youth groups and all kinds of organizations. My mother was a lifelong member of the NAACP and she always insisted that I be politically and socially active.”

Anokye said it was Sunday when she participated in the March on Detroit. Her church brought several busloads of people from the church to the march.

“There were small and big opportunities,” she said. “I never had the chance to be a freedom fighter, but there were sit-ins in my hometown, and I participated in many things throughout my youth, and since then, I’ve always tried to continue the message.”

On Wednesday Jan. 22, at ASU's West Campus, hundreds of elementary students gather to watch Charles St. Clair reenact MLK’s “I Have a Dream Speech" that took place over a half a century ago in the nations capitol.  (Photo by Mario Mendez)

On Wednesday Jan. 22, at ASU’s West Campus, hundreds of elementary students gather to watch Charles St. Clair reenact MLK’s “I Have a Dream Speech” that took place over a half a century ago in the nations capitol. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

Anokye started participating in March on West in 2000. Since then, she has been the primary architect of the program. She said she felt a lot of energy from the students involved this year.

“I love how involved the kids were,” she said. “There was a lot of energy this time, you could really feel it.”

In response to TKE’s allegedly racist party on the eve of MLK day, she said it made her feel sick but she was happy with ASU’s response.

“It’s 2014, and as much as I know that things have not changed it was disappointing and sickening to see this representing ASU,” she said. “Especially to have it on MLK day. It was insulting, but I am proud of how my university responded.”

 

Reach the reporter at kgrega@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @kelciegrega