Student leaders speak out on the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

“I believe the message and purpose in which [MLK] derived for is something that should be carried year round in all that we, as students, do in full spirit, not half,” NAACP President Hannah Laguerre said.

Richard Pereira, Business Manager

Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to reflect that Kaila Palmer is the Marketing and Public Relations Director of the Black Student Union (BSU), not the treasurer.

As Martin Luther King Jr. Day arrives, club leaders at FAU want the commemoration of the holiday to extend both on and off campus as they encourage the university community to participate in volunteer work, inclusive education, and raise awareness on social issues. 

The MLK Day of Service, which FAU describes as an “opportunity to give back to the community by volunteering at a local nonprofit organization,” is an event that both the BSU and the Resident Student Association (RSA) will participate in, according to Kaila Palmer, the marketing and public relations director of the Black Student Union (BSU). 

Palmer said she enjoys having the MLK Day of Service since this is her “first real semester on campus” without many restrictions that the university implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I do want FAU to practice [and] volunteer safely so any outside activities would be cool to see,” Palmer said. “Any inclusive [and] diverse opportunities would be nice, such as cleaning up or donating to less fortunate nearby neighborhoods and schools.”

During the event, clubs will paint musical instruments for the Hugs and Smiles Foundation— which provides free music, dance and art classes to children from all backgrounds— and make bookmarks to donate to local libraries along with books that will be collected at the event.

“Apart from that, BSU will partake [and] host their own service with the city of Boca Raton in Downtown Boca,” Palmer said.

Hannah Laguerre, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), wants the university to approach MLK Day with regards to current issues on campus by “making sure to encompass their African American and Caribbean American students and/or organizations in any decisions when it comes to ideas for the event.”

After that, Laguerre wants to see the university educate its student body on the importance of the day and why it came to be.

NAACP’s plans not only involve promoting its history on their social media platform but also collaborating with other organizations for the Day of Service.

“We will be teaming up with FAU Students Advocating Volunteer Involvement [SAVI] department along with other orgs for a day based on service and creation of toys for unprivileged children,” Laguerre said.

For National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) President Jazzmine Nickerson, the club intends to honor King by educating and helping the FAU community gain knowledge of the Civil Rights Activist and honoring a leader who became a voice for the African American People.

“[FAU] values integrity, social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusiveness,” Nickerson said. “For that, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. should be honored on MLK Day because he worked hard to prohibit and abolish segregation to ensure equality for all.”

What MLK Day means to Nickerson is that King presented great leadership skills, showed integrity by claiming responsibility to fight for justice, and even gave his life up for what he believed in.

“[MLK] worked from sunrise to sunset to eliminate racial discrimination and segregation, with his main goal being racial justice,” Nickerson said.

To Palmer, King was a “man of service,” so she believes MLK Day should reflect that. “However, we [should] practice acts of service as often as possible, not just one day out of the year,” she said.

Laguerre echoed a similar statement, explaining that the importance around MLK Day is that it is more than just a day dedicated to celebrate  Martin Luther King Jr. and to do service one time out of the year, but instead to also celebrate his accomplishments and what he stood for.

“I believe the message and purpose in which [MLK] derived for is something that should be carried year round in all that we, as students, do in full spirit, not half,” Laguerre said. 

Richard Pereira is the Business Manager for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Rich26Pereira.