MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Northern Michigan University students participated in its annual gathering and day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“To me, MLK Day means so much. It’s hard to sum up exactly what that means but just togetherness and that idea of resiliency,” said Leora Tadgerson, interim director of NMU’s Student Equity and Engagement Center.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed on the third Monday of January each year. NMU students remembered the work of MLK with a “legacy march” in his honor from the Forest Roberts Theatre to The Lodge on campus.

“I think that the legacy march is a present reminder of the civil rights movement that came before us and that we have quite a long way to go, and the presence allows the students to reconnect with that legacy,” said Stefani Vargas, coordinator of NMU’s Student Equity and Engagement Center.

From there, the students met outside The Lodge where NMU faculty and staff held a brief program of speakers. Keynote speaker, Darnishia Slade of Michigan Tech’s Pavlis Honors College, spoke on the resilience exhibited by black students attending rural universities, especially in the Upper Peninsula.

“Dr. King saw the harvest before it showed up. He built a movement with justice, dignity, and freedom in mind. Dr. King put in the work. Much like him, I want to honor the legacy of blacks who paved the way right here in the Upper Peninsula,” said Slade.

Following the speeches, the day of service activities began. Grab-and-Go bags were available to students to work on in their dorms, or they could head into The Lodge for other activities.

Students could tie blankets for the Women’s Center, write letters to or make placemats for the Jacobetti Home for Veterans, make masks for the Room at the Inn Homeless Shelter, or pack cereal bags for JJ Packs.

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