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Alpha Phi Alpha holds largest demonstration of school year with MLK march, brunch

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The Phi chapter of fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha conducted one of the largest demonstration of the school year Monday morning with their Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. silent march and brunch.

Around 300 Ohio University students, faculty and Athens residents marched silently through College Green and down South Court Street in remembrance of Dr. King’s legacy as well as those experiencing and fighting racial injustice. Some marched with signs saying “I AM A MAN” and “JUSTICE WHERE RU?” The crowd then briefly congregated on the fourth floor of Baker University Center, similar to earlier protests this school year over racial inequality.

Most of the crowd then met in Baker Ballroom for brunch as well as to reflect and listen to presentations. The keynote speaker was Jim Lucas, who both spoke about Dr. King as well as interpreted his speeches with his Dr. King impression. He is a national public speaker and “an expert on the life and times of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”, according to his website.

“[Lucas] comes highly recommended from a lot of people, so I’m sure it will be an exciting and riveting performance,” William Johnson, a senior studying political science and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, said before the brunch.

In addition to talking about Dr. King’s life, Lucas also spoke about the current struggles of being a black individual.

Other speakers included members of Alpha Phi Alpha, students and Ohio University President Roderick McDavis. McDavis called for unity within the Athens community and to live out Dr. King’s dream.

“We as a community must value one another. I don’t care what your title is. We are Ohio University. We are members of the Athens community. Remind us there are things far greater than our individuality,” McDavis said.

Prominent attendees of both events include: OU First Lady Deborah McDavis, Vice President of Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi, Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones and Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl. Notable student activists and Student Senate members, including John Brown, Kelli Oliver and Ryant Taylor, were also in attendance.

Given recent events in Ferguson, New York City and Cleveland, some felt that this year’s events held more significance than past years.

“There’s a lot more significance [for this march] because we’re still fighting for a lot of the things that Dr. King stood for, and this march is going by his example.” Brandon Chestnut, a senior studying computer science and real estate and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, said. “We pay tribute to his legacy. We pay tribute to his dream. We pay tribute to the man that he was.”

The attendance for both events was one of the largest in its 15-year history. The brunch itself sold out weeks in advance.

“The brunch sold out about three weeks after we started to sell tickets, and the march was the biggest I’ve ever seen since I’ve participated,” Chestnut said. “This is my third year leading the march.”

The march and brunch kicked off OU’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, which spans the entire week. This year’s theme is “Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Other events planned for the rest of the week include a lecture on mass incarceration on Thursday, a teach-in on Dr. King and strategies for social change on Friday and a Day of Service on Sunday.

 

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