Virginia Tech’s ‘What Happened to the Dream?’ celebration honors Martin Luther King’s legacy

vtech-logoTo remember the life and legacy of civil right leader Martin Luther King Jr., Virginia Tech will host, “What Happened to the Dream?”, a ten-day celebration beginning Jan. 19 featuring several events that are free and open to the public.

Events held throughout the week will give students and others in the community an opportunity to discuss current cultural issues and honor the life of the person who was once introduced as the “moral leader of our nation.”

The week-long celebration will begin with a book drive to benefit smart beginnings NRV Reading Hour, a local early-childhood literacy and mentoring program. Organized by VT Engage, the book drive will start  Jan. 19 and run through Feb. 2.

Jerry Gaines, a member of the Virginia Tech Class of 1971, the first full-scholarship African American athlete to attend the university, and the first African American to be inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame, will give the keynote address onTuesday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. in Haymarket Theater of Squires Student Center.

On Thursday, Jan. 29, Wornie Reed will present “Reclaiming the Martin Luther King I Knew” at 6 p.m. in 345 Squires Student Center. He will share memories of his interactions with King, a person often depicted as a peaceful dreamer, but, as Reed notes, was actually the opposite.

Reed, professor and director of Virginia Tech’s Race and Social Policy Center, attended the March on Washington in 1963, hearing first-hand King’s dreams for our nation’s future. Though many focus on King’s ad-libbed “I Have a Dream” ending, says Reed, he encourages people to read the entirety of King’s speech.

“It explained the plight of black Americans and proclaimed the future of our protests until black people are truly free,” said Reed. “We had come to Washington to express how we were intent on forcing America to make good on its promise of ‘unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ He also proclaimed that there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until blacks were granted their citizenship rights.”

Also on Jan. 29, a student-led discussion reflecting on King’s impact on society and Gaines’ address, will be held. Time and location to be announced.

Mosiah Lloyd of Washington, D.C., a senior majoring in building construction and real estate in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, serves as vice president and historian of the Theta Iota chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Alpha Phi Alpha is coordinating many events for the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“We should celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because he took on the brunt of the burden of an entire culture and civil rights movement, all under the banner of non-violence,” said Lloyd. “King held the country accountable for its creed, and did so while being beaten, thrown in jail, having his house set on fire, and more. Virginia Tech teaches students to ‘Invent the Future.’ All invention starts with a dream. Why not invent a future of equality and freedom for all?”

The King celebration will culminate with a gospel concert to be held on Friday, Jan. 30. Time and location to be announced.