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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


King’s legacy continues to inspire

Students brought brown bag lunches and listened to speakers reflect and discuss the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Speakers included UH President Renu Khator, second from right, and College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Interim Dean Joe Pratt, right. | Yulia Kutsenkova/The Daily Cougar

Martin Luther King Jr. will forever be remembered for his powerful speeches and marches that he led during the civil rights movement, but a panel composed of UH faculty, staff and alumni summed up the minister’s legacy with primarily two words — sacrifice and service.

The University honored the civil rights leader with a discussion about his life and career Tuesday at the University Center’s Houston Room.

The discussion was titled “The Relevance of the Legacy Today,” and the panelists sought to remind the audience of all ages and ethnicities that it could honor King’s legacy by helping to improve the lives of others.

“It’s not always about us,” State Representative and UH alumnus Sylvester Turner said. “It’s about what you do to make a difference. That’s what Dr. King stood for.”

King, who would have turned 81 on Jan. 15, was largely seen as the face of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, before he was assassinated April 4, 1968. His activism helped to tear down numerous racial barriers in American society and bring about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, two pieces of legislation that outlawed racial segregation and extended voting rights.

King is probably best known for his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington in August 1963.

Many of Tuesday’s panelists urged members of the audience to live out King’s dream through their own.

“It’s important that we have a dream,” UH President Renu Khator said. “I challenge you to have a dream and live it.

“But don’t just have a dream for yourself. Have a dream for your community, your institution and your family.”

Political science junior Dylan Hickey said that hearing about King’s work inspired him to help others, such as the victims of the recent earthquakes in Haiti.

“I feel (King’s) message is that the greatest injustice is to see suffering from people you can help and refusing to do so,” Hickey said.

Graduate College of Social Work Dean Ira Colby and Honors College Interim Assistant Dean Christine LeVeaux both cited the catastrophic events in Haiti when lecturing on King’s legacy.

More than 150,000 people have died since the Jan. 12 earthquake, and hundreds of thousands of survivors were left without basic necessities such as food and water. Humanitarian aid flowed to Haiti from countries around the world in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and continues to do so.

“That’s something King would have wanted to see,” LeVeaux told the audience.

“If you really want to know what Dr. King’s legacy is to the world, just look at the response to Haiti,” she said.

“Dr. Martin Luther King taught us to never sit by and allow suffering, and thanks to the indelibility of his legacy, we won’t have to.”

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