By Sophia Tejeda | Staff Writer
Today at noon in Cashion Academic Center, Multicultural Affairs looks to celebrate Women’s History Month and Martin Luther King Jr. in a joint way, unlike its separate events of the past. Multicultural Affairs will host a luncheon featuring David Pollard, who will do a reading in tribute to MLK, and Casondra Burkley, who will share some of Coretta Scott King’s story. Registration for this event closed on March 11.
While Multicultural Affairs’ MLK celebration usually occurs in January on the Wednesday after MLK Day, a desire to host the event in person required the moving of the celebration to March due to COVID-19. In hosting the luncheon in March, directors utilized the opportunity to combine the event with observance of Women’s History Month.
Geoffrey Griggs, associate director of Multicultural Affairs, said he thinks it’s especially important to host the event in person after not being able to during COVID-19.
“Having this event in person allows folks from the university to also connect with folks from the community,” Griggs said. “The best time to establish relationships is around a meal. [We are] able to do that through this luncheon, and to break bread with different individuals throughout the community, both Waco and Baylor, and to hear and learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. King by the two wonderful [speakers].”
Pearlie Beverly, director of Multicultural Affairs, chose Pollard and Burkley as the luncheon speakers for their talent in illustrating the narratives of MLK and Coretta Scott King.
“We want to make both [MLK and Coretta Scott King] come to life on Tuesday in the form of a narrative that tells their story,” Beverly said.
Pollard is well-known nationwide for his lifelike performance of MLK. Additionally, Burkley is a Baylor graduate with several successful books.
“They know the importance of making history come to life,” Beverly said.
Multicultural Affairs provides the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the two notable historical figures while enlightening and expanding upon their messages and works to the luncheon’s attendees from both the Baylor community and the Waco community.
“1963 changed the course of history,” Beverly said. “On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. King delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in which he stood in front of 200,000 people. In November 1963, two professors went before the Board of Regents at Baylor University and asked for the vote to allow African American students to attend Baylor University. Dr. King took a chance with his life to make life different for others, a better quality of life and equal opportunities for everyone.”
The blend of Multicultural Affairs’ MLK event with the Women’s History Month celebration opens up a different perspective in honoring women’s history and shedding new light on the achievements of a great woman.
“Women are doing wonderful things, and just like men, they need to be recognized and honored for the wonderful achievements they have brought to the world,” Griggs said. “Coretta Scott King was able to do some things that were important to the movement that happened down the line. She was a powerful voice for the movement during Dr. King’s life and even afterward as well. We need to make sure these voices don’t get overshadowed, that the messages don’t get lost, and understand that women are very much a part of the movement of civil rights … And having this [celebration] during Women’s History Month allows us to see at least one aspect of this.”
Beverly looks forward to a successful luncheon that allows attendees to gain new knowledge and forge new friendships upon the foundation of the respect for individuals’ cultures and heritage and the dedication to learning and reverence that Multicultural Affairs prides itself on.
“It is an opportune time to make connections, some lifelong,” Beverly said. “[Attendees] can meet someone they can learn from. People come together from diverse backgrounds … in hopes to learn from each other and appreciate each other for who we are.”