Martin Luther King Jr.’s Call to Service Echoed at Breakfast

On Feb. 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a sermon titled “The Drum Major Instinct.” King encouraged his audience to seek greatness, but to do so through service and love.

MLK Posters

Students represented different civil rights advocates who practiced nonviolent protests at the MLK Breakfast Celebration, an annual event that honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his accomplishments.

“… It means that everybody can be great. Because everybody can serve,” King said in his speech. “You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”

To bring the speech to life and to celebrate the civil rights leader’s birthday, UT Dallas students created a program involving dance, song and video at the University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast.

To begin the program, graduate student Mito Are performed an a cappella version of “Amazing Grace.” As students, faculty and staff started breakfast, video clips from the civil rights movement were projected onto a number of screens, and King’s voice echoed around them, bringing the audience into the 1960s.

Members of the Student Voices from UTD performed an interpretive dance to the song “A Change is Gonna Come,” by Sam Cooke. A trio of dancers moved in harmony to lyrics such as “there been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long, but now I think I'm able to carry on.”

Interpretive Dance

Students Zeeshan Moosa (right) and Darrel "Friidom" Dunn performed a dance to Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come."

In the spirit of King’s belief in nonviolent protest, students also carried large posters with portraits of other  “Drum Majors for Justice,” which included Stevie Wonder, Harvey Milk, Malala Yousafzai, Pope Francis, Anne Braden, Nelson Mandela, and the three civil rights activists who were killed in Mississippi in 1964 — Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Earl Chaney.

The program was written and directed by arts and humanities PhD candidate Vanessa Baker.

“I approached the concept of the production from my extensive research on Martin Luther King Jr., the movement, and King’s vision for community, equality and justice,” Baker said. “The concept for the breakfast aimed to convey that vision. It aimed to pay tribute to the enormous contributions that King made, which ultimately benefited all of humanity, and to give thanks to the hearers of his message — to those who took and continue to take up the baton for change.”

The event was sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, the Multicultural Center, and the Student Union & Activities Advisory Board (SUAAB).

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed on the third Monday of January each year, near King’s birthday on Jan. 15. President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating the federal holiday to honor King in 1983. It was observed for the first time on Jan. 20, 1986.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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