By Denise Dick
Youngstown State University sophomore Damon Poole says much of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech has come true, and he wanted to mark the 50th anniversary.
Poole, of Cleveland, who is majoring in music performance, was one of the attendees Wednesday at “A Commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington, A Focus on Peace and Nonviolence,” presented by the Africana Studies, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and Student Diversity Programs.
“My fraternity, Iota Phi Theta, was actually founded in 1963 — Sept. 19 — so it’s about the same time,” he said. “I also wanted to support that.”
As evidence of the realization of the Rev. Dr. King’s dream, he points to the end of segregation and the number of white friends that he has.
“They don’t look at me any differently,” he said. “Even my fraternity, we have Caucasian members too. There’s a lot of diversity.”
The observance in Kilcawley Center’s Chestnut Room included reflections from students, clips from the 1963 March on Washington, coverage of the 2013 Washington, D.C., March and concluded with a 63-second silent march outside to the Jamail E. Johnson Tree outside of Kilcawley. Johnson was the YSU student shot and killed in 2011 while at an off-campus party.
The entire program lasted 63 minutes, mirroring the year of the march, said William J. Blake, director of YSU’s Office of Student Diversity Programs.
Blake said it’s important for students to participate in the anniversary of Dr. King’s speech so they understand that they have voices that can be used to help bring about change.
“It’s not always going to be a smooth road to change in our society,” he said.
But the best way to pursue it is through peace and nonviolence, Blake said.
Sophomore Mikala Price of Pittsburgh, who is studying social work, said she learned a lot about the March on Washington by attending the program. In school, her teachers talked a lot about Dr. King and his speech, but she didn’t know that he was one of 11 speakers that day.
“I’m going to come to more things with the Office of Student Diversity Programs,” Price said.