March unites community, honors King

By Sally Ann Moyer

Baylor’s Nu Iota chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and Nu Zeta chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. hosted their 18th annual MLK Peace March Monday morning across the Waco Suspension Bridge to Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

Veronica McClain, president of the local Zeta Phi Beta alumnae chapter, gave a welcoming speech once the crowd arrived in the park.

“Usually when we come over the bridge, we’re singing ‘We Shall Overcome,’” she said, “but I think it being 2011, we have overcome.”

Participants in the march included members and family members of National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations, members and family members of Zeta Auxiliary Youth, students from Live Oak Classical School and other community members.

This was Live Oak’s fifth year participating in the march.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., one of the participating organizations. King’s legacy of encouraging unity drew Alpha Phi Alpha and Longview junior Dexter Dafney to join in the march for the first time this year.

“All of the years after he died, people can still wake up early in the morning and march,” Dafney said. “People can still come together; his dream is still alive.”

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. traditionally recognized as Alpha Phi Alpha’s sister sorority, also joined in the march. Alpha Kappa Alpha senior Gabrielle Whitmore from Aurora, Colo., has marched the past two years because of King’s cultural importance and status as a role model.

“He’s an important part of our culture and heritage, and MLK was an Alpha,” she said, “and he’s someone we do look up to.”

Houston sophomore Le’Paul Jack, a member of Phi Beta Sigma, marched for the first time this year to “show unity and honor Dr. King,” he said.

McClain credits the march with encouraging community involvement and community consciousness.

“I think the march has helped to start the communication process, really getting to know the differences between people, how you look at things,” McClain said.

She also applauds the growth of the crowd each year, not just in numbers, but in diversity.

“I’ve seen it grow, like in numbers, but what I like is the impact, the concern,” McClain said. “We’re finding that more nationalities, all walks of life, are starting to be interested … and the interest groups are a lot younger now.”

Following the ceremony in the park, the group marched onto Bledsoe-Miller Recreation Center for lunch and entertainment.

Converse senior Sabrina Van Rogue, a member of Zeta Phi Beta, has marched all four years that she has been at Baylor.

Zeta Phi Beta and Phi Beta Sigma are the only two constitutionally recognized sister-brother organizations within the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

Members of the two organizations participate in weekly community service activities and annually host StompFest, a funedraiser for sickle cell anemia. Last year, they raised $6,000 and hope to raise $8,000 this year, said Van Rogue.