Honoring legacies at UTEP’s Martin Luther King celebration

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SalmaPaola Baca

esus Fargas Hill performs an original song during the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, Jan. 17 at Centennial Plaza.

Elisha Nuñez, Staff Reporter

The Prospector The first week of school is here, and with it comes a day marking one of the birthday America’s most important historical and political figures, Martin Luther King Jr. A key individual to the civil rights movement, King was responsible, along with many other activists, for equal rights in America. In a celebration of King’s life and achievements, UTEP hosted a special event on Jan. 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., which included speakers, performers and more. 

The celebration began with a touching performance by UTEP’s very own Abeni Merriweather, in which she sang the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing;” a hymn themed around the struggles of African Americans in the late 1800s.. After the performance, UTEP speakers were able to express their thoughts and reflections on Martin Luther King Jr., along with what the Civil Rights movement meant to them.  

Carleton Brown, Ph.D, assistant professor and school counselor coordinator for UTEP’s Educational Psychology Department and Special Services, says these events are important for the community. 

 “They’re essential for reminding individuals like myself the importance of seeking racial equity and positive social change when the marches have stopped and the speeches are done. We go into our everyday lives and (are) often reminded of the reality of racial injustices, prejudice, and biases. There can be moments that you lose hope for real change. But events like the one today reminds us all that we have never been alone in this struggle.”  

In addition to the speeches given by UTEP faculty, performances from UTEP student Jesus Fargas Hill and an El Paso black community choir made their appearances during the celebration.  

As the event ended with more performances from local figures, the audience was reminded that this is one of many events that will happen in lieu of Blach History Month. Organizers say there will be plenty of moments in February to celebrate civil rights and the African American community. Other members of the UTEP community have also stated the importance of celebrating black and American history. 

“I think it’s important to recognize that black history is American history, and even if you are not personally black or Latino,” said Cayleb Stives, vice president of UTEP’s Black Student Union. “It is important to celebrate black history and the civil rights movement because it was not just for the advancement of black people, but for all people, and to recognize that El Paso’s history is deeply ingrained in black history.”  

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration was a day to remember the achievements of the African American community, with more to make their way onto UTEP’s campus. If you are interested to see what other events related to Black History Month are coming soon, check Minetracker for more information on all upcoming events. 

Elisha Nunez may be reached at [email protected]