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Baylor University took part in a nationwide event, remembering both the 1963 march on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s historical “I Have a Dream” speech.
More than 20 students, faculty and staff gathered in front of Pat Neff Hall at 2 p.m. Wednesday, the approximate time King delivered his speech 50 years ago, and listened to the Baylor McLane Carillon bells. Baylor’s carillonneur Lynnette Geary performed, “We Shall Overcome,” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to commemorate the day.
“These are two songs that were prominent during the civil rights movement that I thought would be appropriate for today,” Geary said.
Geary, who in the past has played the carillon in memory of tragic events such as the Sept. 11 attacks and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, said she was very happy to be playing for a joyous occasion that marked a great time in United States’ history.
Geary said she originally planned to play at noon but after finding out The King Center in Atlanta was planning a nationwide event titled “Let Freedom Ring,” she was happy to change her plans. The King Center announced through their website, thekingcenter.org, plans to end their weeklong commemoration with a bell-ringing ceremony in Washington D.C. and invited others from around the world to join them with their own bell ceremonies.
“Students know about this day and it is in a lot of textbooks, but I remember seeing it on TV,” Geary said. “I remember the discussions around the event and I remember our country trying to figure civil rights out.”
Members from the Baylor community took time out of their days to observe the performance. Dr. Elizabeth Davis, Baylor’s executive vice president and provost, and Dr. Kevin Jackson, vice president for student life, were in attendance.
“This was a very historic time and in 50 years a lot has been achieved but much remains to be done,” Jackson said in a brief statement addressing the crowd after the performance.
Several students also made an effort to attend the event and sit in front of Pat Neff Hall during the event. One such student was Little Rock senior Deivory Howard.
Howard said she decided to take a break from work to hear the bells when she learned about the event from her employer, Director for Civic Engagement & Educational Development Ramona Curtis.
“I thought it would be really interesting to come out here and reflect on this important time,” Howard said. “I think that it is really awesome that Baylor is doing something like this on campus.”
Curtis said she let her other employees out of work to observe the bell ceremony and tried to inform as many people around campus about the event. Though Curtis said she would have loved to visit Washington D.C. on this momentous day, she is proud of Baylor for the effort they have made to remember the occasion on campus.