MLK Day of Service features guest speaker, community service projects


Harry Stine/NW

LEGACY—For NMU’s MLK Day of Service, participants met outside of Forest Roberts Theatre before marching through campus together towards The Lodge holding a banner showcasing King’s message.

Harry Stine, Contributing Writer

Northern Michigan University held its annual gathering and day of service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The event held on Monday featured Darnishia Slade, the keynote speaker for the day from Michigan Tech’s Pavlis Honors College and hosted various community service projects.

The event began at noon in front of Forest Roberts Theater where students and staff met for a quick group photo before starting the legacy march. According to Stephanie Vargas, coordinator at the Student Equity and Engagement Center, NMU Facilities double cleared the sidewalk that morning from the march. The march was also livestreamed with assistance from NMU Audio/Visual on Instagram and Facebook and later posted as a video on both sites.

“It’s really great to see folks still remembering his work and trying to continue on with his work,” Leora Tadgerson, interim director at the SEEC, said.

The group made their way to the outside of The Lodge where Slade addressed the people that came. Slade held a moment of silence then spoke of Martin Luther King Jr. as a “farmer of equity” and named some of the African Americans that paved the U.P. for future generations. Slade also mentioned William Gaines in the 1860s, whose son had a run as commissioner and who Marquette’s Gaines Rock is named after.

“Whose shoulders are you standing on? Who will stand on your shoulders?” Slade asked the audience, then instructed them to acknowledge who gave them an opportunity in life, and what they strive for in the future. “You will farm, you will till, you will plant and you will most likely deal with some manure.”

Afterward, Tyler Davis, a Superior Edge volunteer center coordinator, listed off the day of service projects. These included making blankets for The Women’s Shelter, making cards and placemats for the Jacobetti Center, making cereal bags for JJ Park and making masks for The Room at The Inn. 

Tyler said that the Student Enrichment Center worked with the community to see who would benefit the most from service projects. The event had to undergo last minute changes due to the recent update of COVID-19 protocols and was originally supposed to head over to JJ Park and The Children’s Center in person but those plans were scrapped. Vargas added that the event was able to be altered to fit COVID guidelines in under a week. This also led to the speakers being outside. 

Both Vargas and Davis mentioned other ways students could get involved in the community and help out. Davis said emailing the volunteer center is a great way to start and Vargas said visiting the SEEC in Hedgecock is a great place as well as joining campus groups such as Black Student Union, Latinx Student Union and ALLIES.

“I am standing in a building as a black woman from Detroit in the Upper Peninsula,” Slade said. “My ability to freely move across this nation, my ability to freely speak, my ability to freely share my heart and have opinions, my ability to look you in the eye are ways that Dr. King plowed and paved the way that I’m present to right now.”