The African and African American Studies Club hosted a Martin Luther King, Jr. panel discussing how King contributed to ending segregation in the southern United States and how students feel he impacted the history of our country on Jan. 29. Students also discussed how they felt about recent events in our country and other issues that African American students face. 

The aim of this panel was to promote an open discussion about King., his message, and how his work has impacted our society today.

The AFA Club is an African/African American studies organization that aims to positively promote and provide an education of diversity, unity and encouragement among all students attending Eastern Kentucky University. With Black History Month approaching, many organizations on campus are celebrating important African American figures likeKing.

King was a renowned civil rights activist and leader that was assassinated in 1968. His presence glares brilliantly in the pages of novels, varying forms of media, and in many people’s hearts and minds across the country continuing King’s fight for social and economic justice. 

The role that King played in the Civil Rights Movement and ending segregation was indispensable, and his belief in love and acceptance are still felt today. MLKJ Day is a federal holiday that is celebrated every third Monday in January. 

 “We still need him and his message,” said Sabrina Perez, AFA club president during the discussion. Many students feel that it is important to continue to have an open discussion on both King as well as other important topics and issues that face African American students in today’s society.

“It allows people to see different issues in our community and helps people to understand things they didn’t know before,” says Jasmine McDonald, a senior mathematics major from Lexington.

Having the chance to openly discuss King’s life and work can be a good outlet to keep his messages of love and forgiveness alive and in the mind’s of all students today. The impact that he had not only during the Civil Rights Movement, but in subsequent generations, has not been lost. 

Many students may find it difficult or uncomfortable to discuss issues around race, but many others find it even more important to discuss them.

“It gets people thinking in different ways, formulating more ideas. There’s more about black culture we have to talk about and some of it may be uncomfortable,” said Perez. There are many ways for those who wish to get involved in the discussion. 

EKU has many organizations that are geared towards African American students, including: the Black Student Union, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Minority Collegiate Connections and Black Christian Students in Action.

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