Richard Serpe, chairperson of the department of sociology, recalled how in 1963, more than a quarter of a million people gathered in front of the Lincoln memorial to hear Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
Serpe was one of the thousands in the crowd.
At Thursday’s 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, Serpe shared how his experience changed his outlook on civil rights.
“I was blessed to hear Dr. King speak when I was thirteen standing in front of the Lincoln memorial,” said Serpe. “That was the day Martin Luther King delivered the still powerful and iconic ‘I Have a Dream Speech.’ This event committed me to the struggle of the civil rights movement and transformed me into a person who believes we can do better.”
Video produced by Brian Smith.
Students, faculty, staff and Kent State community members gathered on the “K” at Risman Plaza to participate in Kent State’s first Silent March. The march was one way the university honored King in Thursday’s celebration which included a student-led film debut, reflections and the presentation of the 2014 Diversity Trailblazer Award to Judy Devine, member of Kent State’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
“It is the committee’s hope that this event positively affects the campus by serving as a symbolic visual reminder of how far we have come as a country in the area of civil rights,” said Shannon Ashford, a graduate higher education and student personnel major.
Ashford, along with the MLK Planning Committee and student organizations, planned all of the events that have and will take place during the MLK Commemoration week.
The Silent March was organized in the effort to recognize King’s march on Washington.
Judy Devine, member of Kent State’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, was awarded the 2014 Diversity Trailblazer Award during the 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
The diversity award is given to those who exemplify significant change within their department or field of study. Devine, a pre-Title IX female athlete, retired from her post as senior associate athletic director in 2000 after 31 years in a variety of roles within the department.
Devine was nominated by Talea Drummer, assistant athletic director at Kent State, according to a press release. She was chosen by the selection committee because of her efforts to break the gender barrier in the department and promote gender equality.
“Needless to say, I am shocked, humbled and honored to think I was even considered for the award, much less selected as the award winner,” Devine said upon learning she was the 2014 recipient of Kent State’s Diversity Trailblazer Award. “The recognition further fuels my passion to continue to work toward the elimination of gender inequity in educational settings.”
Devine was the head coach of the women’s basketball team from 1969-1977 and the head field hockey coach from 1969-1980. In 1975, she became assistant director of athletics before being promoted to associate athletic director in 1978 and then senior associate athletic director in 1985.
She has contributed than $1.4 million to Kent State.In 2003, she was inducted into the Varsity “K” Athletics Hall of Fame, the highest honor bestowed by Kent State’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
“It was wonderful to see such a large group of people come together for a common cause,” said Ashford.
Students involved in the march felt strongly about supporting the symbolic message the march represents.
“This march symbolizes our generation coming together for something positive just like they did back in the 1960’s,” said Micole Cannon, sophomore sociology major.
The Silent March, like the march on Washington, united people of seemingly different backgrounds to remember the iconic events in U.S. history.
“It was very impactful and shows unity among young black people,” said Rachel Hardy, a sophomore fashion merchandising major. “It feels good to get together and stand up for our culture and our race.”
Serpe said he believed if King was still alive today he would continue to challenge us as a public.
“Your challenge is to get involved in the community and change the discourse,” Serpe said.
Ashford said she hopes the Silent March is an ongoing tradition attached to the annual celebration for years to come.
Contact Kara Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.