Martin Luther King Jr. Honored & Celebrated at BYU [UPDATED]

Author’s Note: I have updated this post to include quotes from Margaret Young of BYU and I have corrected the identification of the keynote speaker (1/23/13 4:50 Mountain Time).

The Brigham Young University campus honored Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday in a variety of campus activities.

With classes cancelled for the national holiday, students participated in service activities during the day in and around the Wilkinson Students Center. The activities ranged from making quilts and toys to donating blood.

The day was wrapped up with a march…always a fitting way to honor Martin Luther King Jr. The candle-light walk started at the Carillon Bell Tower. The march ended at the Wilkinson Student Center.

The symbolism of the march ended at the Wilkinson Center is deep since the late-BYU President Ernest Wilkinson was an ardent critic of the Civil Rights Movement.

“In 1965, BYU featured the film _Civil Riots_ in the Varsity Theater,” noted BYU English Instructor Margaret Young in an interview with FPR. “It depicted the civil rights movement as a Communist plot.”

Yet, the events like those held on campus Monday are a sign of positive change on the campus of BYU, said Young who along with Darius Gray brought us the documentary Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormon.

“Though we work with a grossly inadequate budget as we honor Dr. King in 2013, the fact that we do it at all–and that many of us teach Dr. King’s works–is a sign of enormous growth and even repentance,” said Young.

The keynote speaker at the Monday night’s vigil was the amazing Cathy Stokes.

The events were sponsored by BYU’s Multicultural Student Services and BYU’s Center for Service and Learning as part of a larger Community Outreach Day in conjunction with Utah Valley University and the United Way of Utah County.

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  • Warner Woodworth

    Many of us at BYU have wondered through the years why MLK Day events at on our campus are so paltry compared with the week long substantive commemorations, speeches, marches, seminars, national figures, and teach-ins at Utah Valley University, Westminster, Weber State, the University of Utah, and Utah State University. Of course, the racist culture and leaders from decades ago are certainly a part of the explanation. But why so little in the 2000s? African Americans on campus occasionally inquire about this as they plan trips to other schools each January. Any thoughts? Just wonderin’.

  • Chris H.

    “But why so little in the 2000s?”

    Because that racist culture still exists. While it has morphed into a form of symbolic racism (as has most of American racism), it is still as racist. To an extent BYU is a much a bastion of conservatism as it as Mormonism. Granted, I am a Ute. I taught for a year at BYU, but it is a culture which is foreign to me.

    Warner, I would love to hear your thoughts on this. I know you have some! :)