Martin Luther King’s Legacy, Monument Focus of Event
UT Dallas Honors the Civil Rights Leader, as Students, Educators Remember His Struggle

Jeffrey Okonye

Jeffrey Okonye, a neuroscience pre-med major at UT Dallas, spoke of his personal connection to the Martin Luther King Jr. monument.

UT Dallas senior Jeffrey Okonye says he witnessed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy first-hand last August when he volunteered at the dedication of the civil rights leader’s memorial in Washington, D.C.

“The celebrities, political figures and corporate sponsors who came to show their appreciation of the path that he paved for us definitely showed me that this memorial is more than just a way to honor his legacy. It is in fact a beacon of hope,” Okonye told a crowd of 250 people at a celebration breakfast held in King’s honor at UT Dallas.

“That memorial promises all of us that Dr. King’s hard work will never be lost in the annals of time and will continue to inspire mankind to be conscious of the way we treat each other.”

Okonye, a neuroscience pre-med major, was one of two young leaders who spoke at the event, which carried the theme “The Man, The Monument.” 

Brandi Richards

Brandi Richards, president of the National Urban League Young Professionals, said King’s struggle is still relevant to current day fights for justice.


Brandi Richards, the president of the National Urban League Young Professionals, told the audience that her background and personal experience fighting for justice in her job paralleled King’s upbringing and his willingness to participate in the struggle for civil rights.

Richards said she has studied the life of King and his writings, which helped her understand why he persisted with his non-violent movement for equality.

“What only a study of his life can share is the human drama of leading in the face of life-threatening obstacles,” she said.  “For this, he is most deserving of his feat on the Potomac. Dr. King’s decision to lead a movement was pivotal.”

University officials, staff and student leaders attended the event Thursday morning at UT Dallas. The Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, the Multicultural Center and the Student Union & Activities Advisory Board presented the event.

Aundra Smith

Aundra Smith, with the Sacred Dance Ministry of St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church, performed at a breakfast celebration at UT Dallas.

“So few people have the opportunity to truly change the world for the better through their leadership, and Dr. King is one of those people who managed to do that,” said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel. “I think it’s appropriate and wonderful that we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King and we get reminded of the wonderful principles that were the foundation of the movement he led and that we never forget that.”

The crowd stood and several attendees sang along with Dee Lambert, UT Dallas assistant director of Enrollment Services, when she performed the Negro National Anthem. UT Dallas housing operations staffer Donna Blouin led the invocation by singing “Amazing Grace,” for which she received a standing ovation. Aundra Smith, with the Sacred Dance Ministry at St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church, performed a celebration of dance.

Dr. Magaly Spector, UT Dallas vice president for diversity and community engagement, ended the event with remarks on King’s impact.

“I would like to take the opportunity to remind you that there are a lot of kids out there in poverty that need our help to make it to college,” she said. “That really to honor King, we should help those kids, those people that still have to see how they can make it in life.”

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