Student Production Celebrates King’s Legacy at Annual Breakfast

A large crowd packed the University’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther Jr.’s legacy as students re-enacted key moments from the past and called for continued change in the future.

The skit opened with UT Dallas students dancing to Chubby Checker’s hit “The Twist,” which set the stage and placed the audience in the time of the civil rights movement. Videos of the breakthrough performer projected on two large screens gave way to scenes of protests and marches.

On stage, Samuel Hopkins, who played the role of King, was handcuffed and taken into custody. There, the Arts and Technology (ATEC) sophomore sat in a “cell” writing furiously, just as King had done in 1963 in Birmingham, Ala., after his arrest for violating the state’s laws against mass public demonstrations.

Recorded quotes from King’s essay, Letter from a Birmingham City Jail, played over the speakers as Hopkins wrote.

“When you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’ — then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait,” King wrote.

The UT Dallas Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast is presented by the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, the Multicultural Center and Student Union & Activities Advisory Board.

Later in the production, students expressed their own sense of urgency for further change nearly 52 years after King wrote about the “horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.”

They raised concerns about recent headlines related to police treatment of suspects, handling of sexual assaults, marriage equality, equal pay for women and an end to homelessness and joblessness among veterans.

“Over a decade of war has left many of our nation’s finest both physically and mentally scarred,” said Mike Li, a U.S. Army veteran and software engineering freshman. He also said that veterans need affordable homes, jobs and quality health care.

“Waiting is no longer an option,” Li said.

King’s fight for equality was designed to address continuous change, Arthur Gregg, assistant vice president for multicultural affairs and director of the Multicultural Center, told the audience.

“To reflect ongoing struggles of a separate and equal America, and to timelessly mirror humanity, King’s revolution has not ceased to be a necessity,” Gregg said.

Myles Bolden, an EMAC sophomore, urged the audience to help carry on King’s work.

“Today the urgency of racial justice has been placed in the forefront,” Bolden said. “It is now our responsibility to make our present and our future brighter than our past.”

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