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Packed Evening Celebration Concludes MLK Jr. Commemoration Week

A packed crowd lined up outside the Schwab Auditorium Friday night for the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week Evening Celebration, which embodied this year’s theme, “Where Do We Go From Here: A Tradition Of Resistance.”

“The committee was devoted to making sure our events, collaborations, and all our decisions rang true to the work of Dr. King today,” MLK Jr. Commemoration Executive Director Awaly Diallo said to open the night.

To continue the week’s focus on the impact of student activism, attendees heard from Angela Rye, NPR analyst and CNN commentator, and Marc Lamont Hill, award-winning author and social justice activist.

Students lined up outside Schwab and wrapped around the corner to Pollock Road.

The first student performer of the evening, Rabiyatu Jalloh, read a powerful original poem that got the crowd snapping.

“Everybody loves Cardi B until the shoe starts flying.” Jalloh said. “We deserve proclamation, we deserve love, we deserve joy, we deserve joy” Jalloh said to end her poem with roaring applause from the crowd.

Dr. Ebony Coletu, a Penn State professor of English and African American studies, then led a conversation on race, politics, and youth involvement with Rye and Hill.

“I think that I am encouraged by the fact that people are no longer waiting for a baton to be passed, but deciding I’ll just have my own baton or torch or I’ll get my own seat and pull it up to my own table” Rye said.

Hill credited the work of Malcom X for changing his life and keeping him optimistic, saying he was never the same after discovering his work.

“What Malcom taught me was that one’s life and one’s circumstances can be radically reimagined through the power of love, love of self, someone else loving you, love of reading,” Hill said. “I realized I gotta do something, I gotta go somewhere. So I went from North Philly to West Philly.”

Students and community members had the opportunity to ask questions of Rye and Hill to close out the evening.

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a senior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at [email protected]

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