Photo by Josh Sandler

Tech’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Celebration hopes to inspire students to have “the courage to act.” On Jan. 8, the jovial  celebration began with a student-led kickoff event that encouraged students to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy. The second kickoff event that occurred on Jan. 14 featured keynote speaker Julian Bond sharing his civil rights activist experience.

Two key leaders of the MLK Celebration events, Alex Berry, co-chair of SGA Cultural and Diversity Affairs committee, and Kaili Lynn, the MLK project lead, hope to spread Dr. King’s message to Tech’s student body, and view the celebration as being especially relevant in the twenty-first century.

“I’m multicultural; my mother is Indian and my dad is from Georgia. It’s always been an interesting part of my life to see how people react to different cultures. You still see some lingering issues today,” shared Lynn. “The celebration is still very much relevant today and we should still celebrate and remind everyone to keep working towards a more cosmopolitan community.”

Even though he has actively participated in the celebration before, Berry still views his involvement as an opportunity to learn more from the experience.

“Even though I was involved in it last year, this year I’ve taken on different roles. I think really looking at Tech as an institution that is so diverse, it’s always hard to have those events that can bring in all those different groups of people,” Berry said. “I think this event tried to bridge that gap.”

Adding a new dimension to the MLK Celebration, the project leaders plan to implement an intercollegiate roundtable. The roundtable offers a chance for leaders of different Atlanta-based universities to share their definitions of diversity.

“We are using it to examine how different schools define and address diversity. At Tech we have so many different cultures, ethnicities, and sexual orientations on campus so we might define diversity much differently than say, Morehouse College,” Lynn added. “But that doesn’t mean that Morehouse isn’t diverse. They just might define diversity differently than Georgia Tech so we want to come together and talk about it.”

This intercollegiate ideal was also strongly emphasized in the keynote speaker reception.

“During the reception for the speaker, we had an intercollegiate presentation. This is something that has not been done in the past five years, and we are continuing that on the twenty-second with the roundtable discussion,” said Berry.

The series of events also features an influential motto: “having the courage to act.” Moreover, the motto is especially applicable to the new MLK Celebration line-up.

“It is not being afraid to do something new. We are thinking about how every event can impact our fellow students in a tangible, measurable way, not just something that sounds really cute,” stated Berry.