Commemorative March

Students lead the commemorative march across campus.
Students lead the commemorative march across campus.


Thursday, January 16, 2020

3:30–4 p.m. MLK Commemorative March Program and MLK Walk

The program will begin at the MLK Garden by the MLK Statue (Located between Boone Hall and Welch Hall). Get directions.

Join members of the university and surrounding community as we reflect upon the historical significance of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery March by thousands of non-violent demonstrators, and march across campus from the MLK Garden to the Student Center.

Marchers will gather at 3:30 p.m. at the MLK Garden, located by the east end of Welch Hall, for a brief commemorative program followed by the March, which will end at the Student Center.  Individuals can join the march at any point along the route, similar to what occurred in the 1965 march. 


  • Welcome: Dr. James Smith - EMU President
  • Opening Student Remarks - Quentin Washington
  • Guest Speaker - James Lewis
  • Close of Program: The EMU Gospel Choir
  • About Our Guest Speaker

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    James Lewis is an alumnus of Eastern Michigan University, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work in 1995. Subsequently, Mr. Lewis received a Master's degree in Social Work in 1996 from Wayne State University. James has been an employee with the Detroit Public Schools(DPS) since 1996. He has been working as a school social worker for 23 years, but has held multiple positions over the course of his career at DPS. Mr. Lewis is a 1992 initiate of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Epsilon Eta Chapter at EMU. He's a proud father of three daughters, who are all currently enrolled in college. James loves his EMU family and considers Ellen Gold, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and his former supervisor when he worked as a student employee at Snow Health Center, to be a close friend and mentor.

Following the program, we will march to the Student Center for our MLK Celebration Opening Reception and Student Essay Showcase.

MLK Commemorative March Route

  • Start at the MLK Garden located between Welch Hall and Boone Hall
  • Walk north toward King Hall
  • Continue walking north past Marshall Bldg. and Porter Bldg.
  • Turn right just past Porter and walk east toward Pray-Harrold
  • Turn left on sidewalk just before entrance to Pray-Harrold and continue north toward Downing Hall
  • Cross East Circle Drive at stop sign going north
  • Cross East Circle Drive again going west and follow the walking path toward the picnic area
  • Stay on the walking path going northwest past the picnic area and behind the Lakehouse
  • Continue on walking path going west until you arrive at the north entrance to the Student Center
  • The March continues and marchers will be directed into the Student Center and collectively walk to 310A for the MLK Celebration Opening Reception and Student Essay Showcase.

View the route

Why is the Selma-to-Montgomery March an epic event in history?

The Selma-to-Montgomery March for voting rights represented the political and emotional peak of the modern civil rights movement. On Sunday, March 21, 1965, about 3,200 marchers led by Martin Luther King, set out from Selma for Montgomery, walking 12 miles a day and sleeping in fields. By the time they reached the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama five days later on March 25, 1965, they were over 25,000 strong. King told the assembled crowd: "There never was a moment in American history more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger at the side of its embattled Negroes" (King, "Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March"). Less than five months later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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