When the tower bells rang at 11:50 a.m. this morning, nine fraternity brothers led faculty, staff, administrators and students in a silent march to remember the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the UCSB alumna and Black Studies Dept. lecturer who passed away over the holiday.
The sixth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Silent March began in front of Cheadle Hall where between 80 and 100 marchers showed up to silently reflect upon the life of Dr. King and pay respect to the legacy he’s left behind.
Alpha Phi Alpha, which organized the event, led the crowd to the EOP lawn where a memorial program began with a recording of Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Bikepaths were blocked by Community Service Organization members.
A variety of students, staff, faculty members and administrators including Chancellor Henry Yang, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Young, MultiCultural Center Director Zaveeni Khan-Marcus, Hermanos Unidos members and students of many racial backgrounds came to commemorate the national holiday.
A special musical selection was played by two fraternity members, Va’shajn and DJ, in remembrance of Dr. King, and Alpha Phi Alpha member Michael B. Jackson gave a speech about the fight for civil rights and the struggle to embrace people of all ethnic groups.
“We need to continue to move closer to Dr. King’s dreams in remembrance of his spirit,” Jackson said.
The crowd also observed a moment of silence for Dr. Shirley Kennedy who was a UCSB alumna and lecturer as well as a community advocate for local African-Americans. Many came up to the microphone to give a few words of thanks and condolences to her family who attended the event.
“This is a very difficult moment for the community,” black studies Assistant Professor Claudine Michel said. “Shirley Kennedy had the courage to act and speak what she believed and pursued her vision relentlessly. She has touched so many hearts and educated so many minds. This campus is mourning today. Her legacy will never be lost.”
Junior sociology major and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity president Justin Palmer organized the event.
“A lot of people came out today and supported the memory of Dr. Kennedy, which was really nice to see,” Palmer said.
Campus flags have been lowered to half-mast in honor of Kennedy and Yang spoke of the university’s loss.
“We dedicated this march for Dr. Martin Luther King, however we want to also dedicate this time for Shirley,” Yang said. “I remember her saying these words when she won the Lifetime Achievement award from Santa Barbara News-Press last year. ‘Everyone could make a difference, and everyone should.’ We will never forget Dr. Shirley Kennedy.”