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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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MLK Commemorative Celebration continues with Virgil Wood and poet Se7en


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Poet Se7en and Virgil Wood spoke at the Commemorative Celebration Tuesday in the Student Center Theater as part of the MLK Celebration Week. | Justin Cross/The Cougar

Before the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration began Tuesday afternoon at the Student Center Theater, John Legend and Common’s song “Glory” played in rotation.

The Academy-Award winning song is from the soundtrack of “Selma,” a film that was screened on Monday and tells the story of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights.

The MLK celebration continued with speaker Virgil Wood, a man who worked with King himself for ten years.

“I would suggest that (students) would want to look at the heroic imagination that you see operating in Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela,” Wood said. “I would suggest that they take one of those first and as they understand the interplay of the passing of the baton from one generation to the other, and think about their own grandparents.”

Wood said that once the younger generation understands figures like Rosa Parks, they would think about the struggles that people close to them have also gone through.

“And you find that they have a rich story (and) that old people don’t tell you their story if you don’t ask,” Wood said.

Following Wood was the poet Se7en, who recited three of his poems like “I Teach.”

Niya Blair, director for the Center of Diversity and Inclusion and chair for the MLK Committee, said she learned a lot of things from Wood’s speech, particularly Mandela’s interaction with Parks.

“I really felt the spirits of those people when I heard Dr. Wood speak, so it really got to me in an emotional way,” Blair said.

Public relations junior Quia Brown said the celebration was inspiring.

“It’s good to hear from people who have actually been there and lived that life,” Brown said. “It brings people this kind of warm feeling because everybody kind of interprets what happened, but they don’t know what really happened.”

Journalism freshman Matthew Stell said it was good to see the UH and Houston community come out and commemorate King.

“We have MLK day and parades and things, but (here people) actually take some time out and think about and praise him, to listen to people that he worked with and the effort that he did for achieving social justice,” Stell said.

The last event of MLK Week, “Social Justice: Then and Now,” takes place on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom and will feature an examination of social injustice protests featuring a panel.

“I just want students to take part more in programs like this because it’s not only an opportunity to celebrate the legacy of  Dr. King, but it’s about education and knowing and then finding our own responsibility,” Blair said. “I encourage more students in general, faculty and staff, to be able to come out to events such as this, because I think we all gain something from these types of events.”

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