In order to commemorate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., the School of Social Work hosted the annual celebration that included singing, praying and remembering.
Baylor students, faculty and members of the community gathered together Sunday on Speight Plaza and sang songs in remembrance of the legacy of King.
Holding candles, the crowd later marched to Miller Chapel where the worship service and celebration was held. During the march, the crowd sang “We Shall Overcome,” which was a major song in the Civil Rights Movement of which King was a part.
Judge Ken Starr and his wife Alice were among those at Miller Chapel that joined in on the service and celebration.
The worship service featured selections from choirs of the Pleasant Olive Missionary Baptist Church and the Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church. Baylor students were involved in the ceremony as well. There was an invocation done by Robrion Sills from the Religion Department and spoken word done by Kristina Garrison, a Master’s of Social Work alumni.
When Dr. Erma Ballenger, the Director of Field Education for the School of Social Work, came to Baylor in 2009, she realized there was no event planned to honor King and she wanted this to change. She backed the creation of the event and helped get churches and the religion department involved. She realized there was nothing scheduled for Sunday in the weekend of events planning to honor King and she started thinking about a way to bring Baylor together with the community
“We wanted to bring town and gown together,” Ballenger said. “We wanted the community to get involved. We’re still all one.”
Kieara Jones, the Daingerfield Texas School of Social Work graduate student, was a co-chair for planning the event. She said the celebration allowed the Baylor and Waco communities to collaborate.
“It was a great way to bridge a gap between the greater Waco community and the Baylor community,” Jones said. “We just want to come together and help each other as best we can.”
Dr. Kerry Burkley, the pastor at the Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church in Waco, gave a message about Martin Luther King Jr. in which he preached about equality and finding a purpose. He ended his sermon by orating the entirety of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Dr. Frisch, a professor in the Psychology and Neuroscience department was also in attendance of the celebration. He said he saw the celebration as a call to action.
“It’s a bridge out of the Baylor bubble to the community,” Frisch said. “People who care about equality and diversity need to get out of the classroom more and practice what we preach.”