Commemorative March and Art Gallery Showcase

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - Celebration Kickoff

Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative March

MLK Garden with MLK Statue (located between Boone and Welch Hall), 3:30 - 4:15 p.m.

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 on the east end of Welch Hall at 3:30 p.m. and then proceed to the MLK Garden. Lemonade will be provided.

There will be a brief commemorative program at the MLK Garden beginning at 3:45 p.m.. followed by the March at 3:55 p.m.


  • Welcome: Dr. James Smith - EMU President
  • Opening Student Remarks: Tremain Lasenby - President of National Pan-Hellenic Council and Vice President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Epsilon Eta Chapter
  • Keynote: Words of Reflection: Dr. Derrick Coleman - Superintendent of River Rouge School District and EMU alumnus
  • Close of Program: The EMU Gospel Choir
Dr. Derrick Coleman

Dr. Derrick Coleman is the superintendent for River Rouge School District and a two-time alumnus of Eastern Michigan University. While at EMU, Dr. Coleman earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and Teaching in 1997 and a Master of Education in 2001. He has worked for various school districts including Detroit Public Schools, Lincoln Consolidated Schools and Pontiac. Named Michigan Chronicle's 2016 Man of Excellence, Coleman has also been recognized as the Payne-Pulliam Foundation Unsung Hero Next Door and the Pontiac School Board Presidential Golden Gavel award winner. As a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated initiated into the Epsilon Eta Chapter (EMU), we welcome him back to campus to share a few words of reflection and to kick off this year's celebration at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March.

At 3:55 p.m., following the program, we will march to the Student Center for our MLK Celebration Opening Reception and Art Showcase. Individuals may join the march at any point along the route, similar to what occurred in the 1965 march.

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 Art Showcase .

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.

MLK Celebration Opening Reception and Student Art Showcase

310A Student Center, 4:15–6 p.m.

 The reception program will be hosted by Elise Buggs, Director of Academic Support Services, EMU.

EMU President James Smith will deliver opening remarks to kick off the 32nd annual MLK Celebration.

The Black Faculty and Staff Association will announce the 2017-18 Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. student scholarship awardees.

The MLK Student Art Showcase will feature artwork created by EMU students. The artwork will in some way exemplify, relate to, connect with, or inform our understanding of Dr. King's legacy; in particular, how individuals and groups interpret Dr. King's mission to improve the world through equality, peace and justice.

As an added feature this year, students from Ypsilanti Community High School will also showcase their artwork and photography in celebration of Dr. King's legacy at the Opening Celebration Reception.

The artwork created by our EMU students will be judged and three students will be selected to each receive a $500 scholarship in recognition of their work. The winners of the student art showcase will be announced later in the reception.

The EMU Gospel Choir will perform a selection in remembrance of Dr. King's legacy.

Refreshments will be served.

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