Despite the rain, determined students, faculty and community members marched their way through campus in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
On Jan. 16, the Office of Multicultural Student Services put on their annual march, which began around 4:00 p.m. The march was open to anyone who wanted to participate and began in the lower level of the David L. Eisler Center. Participants then marched around FLITE and ended up at the upper level of the DEC.
According to OMSS director Danyelle Gregory, the march has been happening for over 30 years at Ferris, and this was the second march since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gregory explained that the march usually attracts over 100 participants. This year, despite the poor weather, she was impressed with the amount of people who showed up to help keep the message of the march alive.
“We want our students to understand the sacrifices and the accomplishments and achievements of civil rights activists,” Gregory said. “Why we are able to serve our students where we are today, why our offices even exist, right. Why we’re able to practice inclusion on our campus, why we were able to be integrated, and so we want to pay homage and honor the people who made this possible and blaze the trail for today.”
The march began with words from Vice President of Student Affairs Jeanine Ward-Roof, which were followed by words from Gregory, who explained that, while the weather would not put an end to the march, they were going to cut down the route so participants could march without the risk of becoming sick. The march took approximately fifteen minutes to complete and included around 70 participants.
One of the participants in the march was digital animation and game design senior Jaylen Woods, who said that this was his fourth march. According to Woods, the march is a place to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and make connections and friends.
“The first time I did it, after the walk I vividly remember me in a group of my friends… going to block eating and chilling for like two, three hours,” Woods said. “I made friends every time, and this year I knew a lot more people who are a part of the walk.”
The MLK march doesn’t just attract students, according to Gregory.
“We get senior level administrators, we get faculty and staff [and] students from all the different organizations and departments on campus,” Gregory said. “So we get a very wide turnout in a very wide range of people that come out and participate.”
Those who participated in the march were able to go around campus and publically acknowledge and remember the reason for the march. Throughout the march, participants chanted the words to “Everywhere We Go” in an attempt to convey the message of why the first march took place.
Nursing sophomore Janiayah Moore works at the OMSS and participated in the march. Moore was able to help lead the march and hold the Martin Luther King Jr. banner. Moore explained that her time participating in the event was a good one.
“My experience at the march was very impactful,” Moore said. “I’m happy everybody came together. It was beyond my expectations. I like how we had the keynote speaker and how it was organized, and everybody did a great job.”
Martese Johnson, this year’s keynote speaker, spoke directly after the march. The OMSS hopes to continue with the march for years to come.