MLK Breakfast Celebrates the Making of the Man with Music, Speeches

  • Clockwise from left: Soujanya Koduri, neuroscience senior; John Johnstin, assistant director of Student Life Programs; Jonathan "GNO" White, assistant director of Student Life Programs; and Deja Rollins, assistant director of Student Media, served as panelists in "The Making of the Man," a student production featured at the UT Dallas annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

Long before he led boycotts and marches, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the son of an Atlanta Baptist pastor growing up under the realities of racial segregation.

King’s early years were the focus of a student production, “The Making of the Man,” at UT Dallas’ annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast.

The student group The Voices of UTD set the production at a fictional symposium on King, with students playing the role of participants. A row of panelists, seated on the stage in the Student Union, took turns answering their questions.

“What factors contributed to the making of the person we know was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?” the first person asked. The audience learned that King was born Michael Luther King Jr. and that when he was 6, his father changed both of their names in honor of the 16th-century Protestant reformer Martin Luther.

“How did he become the civil rights leader?” one of the students asked.

That led to the story of King’s leadership in a Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott after Rosa Parks, an African-American passenger on a segregated bus, was arrested when she refused to stand so that a white passenger could sit.

“Though Martin was threatened, cursed, jailed, and his home bombed while his family was inside, he insisted that the strike should continue until the segregation on the bus had disappeared, and that the black community would respect his nonviolent approach,” said panelist Deja Rollins, assistant director of Student Media.

UT Dallas’ tribute to King also featured speeches, vocal and dance performances. Speakers included Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, president ad interim; and Dr. George Fair, vice president of the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement and dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies; and Arthur Gregg, assistant vice president for multicultural affairs and director of the Multicultural Center.

The annual celebration breakfast is presented by the Multicultural Center, Office of Diversity and Community Engagement and Student Union and Activities Advisory Board. The program combined contributions from faculty and staff and the community in addition to students.

Dee Lambert, director of enrollment services, sang “Amazing Grace” to begin the program.

Vanessa Baker, an arts and humanities PhD candidate, wrote and directed “The Making of the Man.”

Aundra Smith, with the Sacred Dance Ministry of St. Luke Community United Methodist Church, performed a dance to the song “We Shall Overcome.”

In a speech at the event, Ifeoma Ahuna, a supply chain management freshman, said that King’s commitment to his dream of racial equality inspired her to pursue her own dream of becoming a lawyer.

“Like Dr. King, we must not shy away from our dreams and instead actively attempt to make them possible,” Ahuna said. “Now is the time to make your personal goals match your dreams. Now is the time to defy the odds and the obstacles. Now is the time to rally up your supporters to have your own source of encouragement. Now I ask, what is your dream?”

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