The Dixie State University Black Student Union will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 20 with events for students and a dedication of a light post in honor of the civil rights leader.
The events will begin at noon in the Gardner Center lounge area where students will hear from Bryan Hotchkins, a post-doctoral research associate in the political science department at the University of Utah. Hotchkins has authored multiple scholarly publications concerning black students and has been invited to speak at several universities. Attendees can also look forward to refreshments and the light post dedication ceremony after the speaking engagement.
Christina Duncan, the BSU adviser and sociology instructor, said the idea for having a light post on campus dedicated to King Jr. was inspired by a quote from his book, “Strength to Love,” which reads: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
The quote will be mounted on the light post along with a picture of King Jr. Many people donated money, books and time to the BSU to make the dedication possible.
“We thought … it would be a really good [quote] to celebrate Martin Luther King (Jr.),” Duncan said. “It’s kind of what he was about: this idea of inclusiveness, this idea of moving and working together toward the common good.”
She said the goal of the celebration was to educate and facilitate a cultural understanding for the DSU community.
Hotchkins will speak again in the Gardner Center Conference Room B at 5 p.m. during a student forum on civic and political engagement. This will give students an opportunity to hear him speak in a smaller setting and ask questions.
The day will conclude with a special screening of the film “Selma” at the Pineview Stadium 10 movie theater located at 2376 Red Cliffs Drive. The movie portrays the events during the civil rights movement that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Tickets are available to students for $3 from Duncan in room 232 of the McDonald building.
The BSU will also hold multiple events during February for Black History Month. Starting with an opening social Feb. 5 in the Gardner Center at 7 p.m., there will be seminars hosted every Tuesday by different departments, a documentary movie screening, and a closing ceremony at the end of the month. All students are encouraged to attend the events, as well as the regularly scheduled BSU meetings every Thursday at 4 p.m. in Conference Room B in the Gardner Center.
Dean of Students Del Beatty said an increasing population of black students at DSU, strong student leadership, and an active club adviser has helped the growth of the BSU.
“We’ve had such a dramatic increase in our diversity this year … which is really exciting,” Beatty said. “Anything we can do to enhance the diversity on our campus benefits all students.”
His advice for students on campus is to get to know each other on a personal level.
“Until we can overcome the barrier of students just learning to socialize with each other and be really comfortable and open … there’s going to continue to be a divide,” he said. “And it’s not just here, it’s nationwide.”
Students can sign up to be a part of the BSU through OrgSync on the DSU website to receive reminders of upcoming activities and stay up to date on events during Black History Month and the rest of the semester.