Athens Residents And OU Students Honor King’s Legacy

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Many Ohio University students and Athens residents chose to honor Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy over their holiday weekend by giving back to their community and participating in OU's celebratory events. 

The university invited its students and community members to participate in a day of service on Saturday on Martin Luther King Jr.'s behalf.

Participants volunteered at several locations, including Habitat for Humanity, the Re-Store Habitat Store, United Campus Ministry and the Southeast Ohio Food Bank. 

“Dr. King was seeking justice,”  said Jim Sand, a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. committee for OU and Athens County. “We still have needs and injustices in our society, and so in his memory and in his spirit, I think it’s important to get out and try to meet those needs and in some small way still be activists.”

Several OU volunteers said they felt the service projects in Athens County were the most effective way to recognize and honor King's serivce to the nation. 

“What better form of community service because [Martin Luther King Jr.] gave his life to his cause and he gave his life to help people,” said Brandon Chestnut, an OU junior volunteer.

“I believe that he tried to make a difference in people’s lives and that’s what community service does, especially for those who are less fortunate,” said Caylyn Anderson, an OU freshman volunteer. 

At the Southeast Ohio Food Bank in Logan, nearly 100 volunteers prepared 1,500 boxes of food on Saturday in three hours time. The food bank distributes 4,000 boxes of food each month to people in 10 counties. 

Some volunteers said the day reinforced the need to give back to southeast Ohio on a regular basis.   

"Getting to college, it’s really easy to forget that you’re not the only person in the city,” said OU Sophomore Danielle Limon. "I think it’s really important to keep those thoughts of others even in a time that’s so important to focus on yourself.”

On Monday, students and local residents recognized King through a silent march and annual brunch. Both events were hosted by OU's Phi chapter of the Apha Phi Alpha fraternity, the same fraternity that King belonged. 

The march began on OU's College Green, continued on Court Street and ended at OU's Baker Student Center, where the brunch was held. 

Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl, who attended the silent march, spoke about the importance of recognizing King's contributions in Athens. 

“We are and education city,” he said. “ We strive to be both inclusive and diverse and deal with a lot of students. We call them short-term residences, but at the time you look at the future and it will be shaped by what concepts are out there. I think one of the best things to look at is the philosophy and teaching of Dr. Martin Luther King.”

An OU sophomore said King's contributions had a personal influence on his life and education.  

“Without him, I probably wouldn’t be at this university,” said William Johnson. “His sacrifices and his life works did so much for civil rights in this country and civil rights around the world.”

The theme of the 2013 commemorative events was "Media Motivated Movements."

Basheer Jones, the keynote speaker at the 13th annual brunch, spoke about the power held by the media and its influence on the direction of the country. Jones suggested that it's up to the people to decide which voices they choose to be inspired by. 

University sponsored events to celebrate the life of Dr. King will continue Tuesday with a community-wide discussion about fighting injustice in today's society and with a creative arts showcase.