MLK day of service is a national initiative. This year at HSU there was an event hosted via Zoom for Martin Luther King Jr. that began with a keynote speaker, LaTosha Brown and continued into two breakout rooms with workshops such as Art and Community Activism by Aundrea Stuckey from Youth Art Will Succeed (YAWS).
Prior to the event, Molly Kresl, the student life coordinator, was excited about the event still going on regardless of not being able to host it in person due to the pandemic protocols.
“Last year we did MLK day of service and we had three different volunteer sets and over a hundred people to volunteer and eighty participated,” Kresl said. “It was totally successful and we were so happy.”
Kresl wanted to continue the event virtually to allow the community to be able to participate in the event from the safety of their home and still get a meaningful experience.
“Us being in a virtual semester, we wanted to continue the tradition because it is a brand new tradition, we think it is a really valuable and important event,” Kresl said. “So we had to kinda reinvent what it looked like.”
Towards the end of introductions, a slide was dedicated to labor and land recognition such as native land in Humboldt county and acknowledging the labor that built this country.
LaTosha Brown was the first keynote speaker and spoke about what MLK day means, the work she has done for Black Voters Matters, experience, and motivating the audience. In the beginning, she sang a song and spoke on the impact of the song.
“A song in their heart, they had hope,” Brown said.
Brown’s speech related to addressing those who have been affected by COVID-19 and this year in general.
Within the break, there was an option to join breakout groups composed of participants and main speaker interactions through the chat and aloud. Most of the content of the breakout rooms was back and forth conversation and understanding the importance of MLK day.
Stuckey’s breakout room focused on subjects within the art community and involvement with POC artwork in Humboldt county.
“Where do you see black art? Black people?” Stuckey said.
The second breakout room was dedicated to discussion between participants and main speaker Ron White from the Humboldt Area Foundation discussing his presentation “The Salvation of Democracy: Civic Engagement of the Dispossessed.” Sarah Hammoudi, a senior bachelor’s social work major, attended the second breakout session with White and was a participant for the event.
“I then attended the workshop held by Ron White on civic engagement and it was an amazing opportunity,” Hammoudi said. “I was even able to speak in a small breakout group with him which gave me even more insight and inspiration.”
Overall the end of the event ended with questions from participants to the main coordinators and speakers and leveled into a deep discussion.
“LaTosha Brown, the keynote speaker, was absolutely inspiring and provided amazing insight,” Hammoundi said. “ She said ‘we are called to evolve’ which makes me remember despite how unpredictable the past year’s circumstances have been, we surely can be a piece to making real change one day.”
Hammoundi was inspired not only by Brown but also the event, the other speakers, and the meaning behind the day itself.
“MLK day to me definitely is a reminder to do good for others as you wish to receive,” Hammoudi said.