MLK Commemorative Vigil Asks, “What Are We Doing for Others?”

January 18, 2011

MLK Candelight Vigil
Photo by Laura J. Cole

On April 4, 1968, the world lost a leader whose message became the voice of a generation and whose dream continues as a vision for the world. While Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life was taken too early, his legacy endures as a beacon of equality and justice for all people. On Monday, January 17 at 6:01 p.m., the exact time when King’s life was ended by a single bullet, Rollins and the local community gathered to commemorate the man, the dream and the legacy at a vigil held at Knowles Memorial Chapel.

Moment of silence   Rollins students perform

Moment of Silence
At 6:01 p.m., the audience members rose to their feet for a moment of silence to remember King, as the chapel bells echoed the ring of hope of freedom and knowledge.


"Lift Every Voice and Sing"
Rollins students led the audience in singing a song “full of the faith that the / dark past has taught us” and “full of the hope that the present has brought us” from James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing (Black National Anthem).”

President Lewis M. Duncan   Rollins students and Rollins Upward Bound youth perform a commemorative dance titled,

President Lewis M. Duncan
President Lewis M. Duncan welcomed everyone gathered in the chapel and reminded us all to remember the call to action inscribed in King’s message. “Responsible leadership, which we teach and preach here at Rollins, means that we are not merely informed spectators of the events and inequities of the world around us," he said. But rather that we are engaged citizens, acting on our beliefs and accepting our responsibilities, caring for the least advantaged in our societies, protecting the most helpless, standing intentionally in harm’s way around the world to protect and preserve the liberties that make us free.”


"He Lives in You"
Rollins students  Cherisse Hagood (Class of 2012) and Yves Saint-Louis (Class of 2013) and Rollins Upward Bound participant Marjory Delva (Apopka High School) performed a dance titled, “He Lives in You.”

Founder of Tars Crossover, Ines Teuma (Class of 2009)   D'Vonte Chapman (Class of 2014) performs

Ines Teuma (Class of 2009)
Alumna Ines Teuma (Class of 2009) discussed the program she founded, Tars Crossover, an initiative developed to support youth in Teuma’s native country, Cameroon. In honor of King, she collected money and goods to bring back to young Cameroonians. During our celebration of Martin Luther King, she asked that we remember “the forgotten youth in Africa” and to remember the entirety of King’s vision: “He was not only an antiracist, but he also condemned the excess of capitalism, militarism and even the Vietnam War.  He was a great activist for human and civil rights, and social justice for all people. Global citizenship and social justice should be more than just concepts; they must become ways of life.”


"A Change Is Gonna Come"
D’Vonte Chapman (Class of 2014) sang Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” His voice resounded from the Chapel’s ceiling with the lyrics, “Oh, there been times that I thought I couldn't last for long / But now I think I'm able to carry on / It's been a long, a long time coming / But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will.”

Community Key Note Speaker, Nadine Smith   Dean of the Chapel Patrick Power leads the MLK Candelight Vigil

Nadine Smith
Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, delivered the keynote address. She encouraged students to see King as an example of how to live their lives and to be careful not to place him on a pedestal, afraid that his work and life cannot be duplicated. She cautioned that his mission of equality and human rights is far from over, citing her experience serving the LGBT community as an example.


Memorial Vigil
Dean of the Chapel Patrick Powers led the candlelight vigil on the steps in front of the Knowles Memorial Chapel. “We can do better in the way we treat one another. Not just tolerating someone, but accepting someone as different but equal. And we can do better in the way we speak about each other. No slurs, no innuendoes, no vile language. We can do better in the way we dream," said Powers. "We can dream of a better day, a better time, a better atmosphere. And we can dream it together. And if we treat one another better, and if we speak about one another better and if we dream together about a better tomorrow, then we will not only be changing ourselves, but we will change our campus and we will be following in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. who changed our world.”

"The Rollins community showed their genuine respect to Dr. King's legacy and life work throughout the week-long celebration,” said Mahjabeen Rafiuddin, director of multicultural affairs. “We have successfully launched Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration as one of our proudest moments. If you missed it, we hope to see you at MLK 2012."

View more photos from the event.

By Laura J. Cole

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