The Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity drew spectators yesterday as the group staged a silent march in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at exactly 11:47 a.m.
The march wound its way from Cheadle Hall to the Women’s Center lawn. Alpha Phi Alpha President David Brown led the procession while holding up a large black marquee with two other fraternity members. Twenty-five students, faculty and fraternity members attended the march.
Brown, a senior law and society major, said the event was held to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
“This march is just about remembering Dr. King,” Brown said. “Sometimes we get caught up in the rigors of daily life and forget his legacy.”
According to its website, Alpha Phi Alpha was founded at UCSB in 1976, and is a fraternity dedicated to strengthening bonds within the African American community.
The procession held in honor of Dr. King is an annual event dating back 9 years, said Residence Halls Association Assistant Judicial Affairs Coordinator and Fraternity Adviser LaDonte King.
Alpha Phi Alpha member Iheanyi Nkwocha, a senior political science and law and society major, said Dr. King’s philosophies are important to the fraternity members.
“This is something we do every year,” Nkwocha said. “Peace and reconciliation are ways of building bridges. We should learn from Martin Luther King.”
As the silent group proceeded through crowded areas of campus such as the Arbor, it attracted the attention of curious passersby. Fourth year psychology major Jenny Childers said she was impressed by the event.
“The march was very respectful,” Childers said. “I felt … not awkward, but I was in the middle of their parade and I was walking my bike through it.”
Retired French and Italian professor Harry Lawton said he was not immediately aware of the reason for the march, but said he soon understood the importance of the man it commemorated.
“I didn’t know what was going on at first,” Lawton said. “But I was in SB the day [the assassination] occurred. It was a hell of a blow.”
Upon reaching the Women’s Center lawn, the group heard a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a song co-written by James Weldon Johnson. Johnson, an influential member of the National Association for the Advancement Colored People (NAACP), was amongst the first African Americans to be elected to the Florida State Bar.
Event attendees then listened to excerpts of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Afterwards, Nkwocha delivered an oration to the gathered assembly.
Several faculty members also participated in the march. Many Alpha Phi Alpha members shook hands with Vice Chancellor Michael Young and thanked him for his support following the march.
Young said he was glad to be a part of the event.
“Both personally and professionally I needed to be here,” Young said. “[King’s] work is fundamental to the opportunities I’ve been given. I think that the silent march is particularly powerful as a way of symbolizing the character of Dr. Martin Luther King.”
Young said he approved of Nkwocha’s discourse.
“I think [Nkwocha’s] speech was superb,” Young said. “When you think about the message of all people working together to achieve justice through peace and nonviolence … It’s extraordinary.”