Home Social Justice MLK Day speaker Basheer Jones captivates audience with talk of change and empowerment

MLK Day speaker Basheer Jones captivates audience with talk of change and empowerment

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Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity helped Ohio University celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday with the 13th Annual MLK Jr. Silent March and Brunch, located in Baker Center Ballroom.

While the celebration’s theme, “Media Motivated Movements: King’s Beloved Community 2.0,” focused on the importance of applying Dr. King’s message to a new generation, the media most aptly utilized to touch attendees remained old school: song, dance and powerful words.

Keynote speaker Basheer Jones, an Alpha Phi Alpha brother and graduate of Moorehouse College, spit smooth lines of spoken word poetry before embarking on a speech that empowered listeners to see Dr. King in themselves to change the world for the better.

“It’s great that we talk about Dr. King, but Dr. King is gone,” he said. “What are YOU gonna do?”

President Roderick McDavis, Mayor Paul Wielh, Miss Bronze Arielle Smith and several Alpha Phi Alpha members spoke on the powerful impact Dr. King left on America as well.

Jones grew up in Cleveland with his mother and younger siblings, though originally hailing from Brooklyn, NY. A background of impoverished areas, coupled with his late mother’s teachings of gratefulness and charity, lead him to become an activist for change.

“We have to begin to speak up for people who can’t speak for themselves,” he said.

Music played an important role in the brunch with captivating performances by Athens Black Contemporary Dancers (ABCD) and the vocal group Anointed Praise, which sang a capella.

Jones spoke of music’s impact on the lives of all people, and how the emotions conveyed over today’s radio trickle into the emotions and attitudes of the world, especially among young adults and teenagers.

“Now what would Dr. King say about Nicki Minaj?” he said. Jones wondered aloud many times what Dr. King would think of the world today, focusing on President Obama, who swore in for the second time Monday with one hand on a Bible once owned by MLK himself.

“He might be excited about the inauguration, too,” Jones said, “but tomorrow he might say, ‘Mr. President, I need to talk to you about what’s going on overseas.’”

It might have been his good sense of humor that pulled in the audience most, conveying a down-to-earth nature that helped his message of peace, equality and acceptance of all races, colors and creeds feel even more grounded—a message that Dr. King championed.

“You don’t have to believe everything I believe. I don’t even believe everything I believe!” Jones joked, before his tone turned serious. “You have a right to exist, despite what you believe. You have a right. Because you exist.”


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