FAU celebrates MLK day with its 11th Diversity Address

The Center of IDEAs hosted their annual MLK Day Diversity Address featuring keynote speaker Kenasha Paul.


Nicholas Windfelder

Kenasha Paul speaking at the 11th MLK Day Diversity Address.

Christopher Vargas, Contributing Writer

For the 40th anniversary of the inception of Martin Luther King Jr. day, communities all across the country went out to celebrate the civil rights leader’s legacy.  

The Center for Inclusion, Diversity, Education, and Advocacy (IDEAs) hosted their 11th annual MLK Day Diversity Address. This year’s keynote speaker was Kenasha Paul, the founder, and CEO of the Black Professionals Network (BPN). 

Since coming back on campus after the pandemic, campus events have had a difficult transition back to normal, according to the interim Director for the Center for IDEAS, Juan Izaguirre. 

“Last year when we had a luncheon, it wasn’t as well attended. So this year, we said ‘let’s have a banquet and see what happens,” said Izaguirre.

Despite these challenges, the spirit of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message is still upheld by the center and event hosts.

“I think the hope is that they hear that when we celebrate, we talk about MLK as more than just a motivational quote,” said Izaguirre.

Larry Faerman, vice president of student affairs poses next to MLK painting. (Nicholas Windfelder)

Along with students, faculty and staff were in attendance. Among them was Larry Faerman, FAU’s vice president of student affairs.  

“I come to hear from the speaker of course, but also to pick up on the types of calls to action that the speaker might issue to the students,” said Faerman.

As guests were taking their time before the event, Paul was able to discuss why it was important for her to come and take the time to speak at FAU. As a Black community leader herself, she wanted to share the message of taking your time to make an impact in the community, much like Rev. King. 

BPN, Paul’s company is a nonprofit that provides many opportunities to Black businesses, such as networking and funding.

“We’ve helped people raise money for their company, secure grants for their nonprofit, and get job opportunities.” Paul said regarding the ways her company was able to change lives

Paul believes Rev. King’s teachings and principles are impactful to this day and wants to share this sentiment in her keynote speech. 

“The first principle I would like to share is to be a student of your message,” she said. “What also I mean by being a student of your message is being able to back up those facts.” 

Rev. King, with his past as a minister, was able to foster and grow a community of his own and beyond with his impact lasting decades after his passing. Paul expresses the same sentiment that a large community is able to achieve a high-end goal no matter how far-fetched it seems.

“The second principle I would want to share is the importance of building and nurturing your community,” said Paul.

Paul was able to change the way her alma mater, Florida International University treated their Black organizations through amassing a community effort. Much like what Rev. King had done in the past, she sought out to seek positive change.

Overall, Paul’s third principle puts an emphasis on building your own team. She elaborates by saying Rev. King wasn’t accomplishing things by himself but had assistance from other Civil Rights leaders such as his wife, Coretta Scott King, Andrew Young, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and more. They were working together to create an impact in their community as well as fighting for equality. 

Kenasha Paul delivers her MLK Day Address. (Nicholas Windfelder)

For her final principle, Paul shares the message that “the revolution must be financed.” She discusses the stigma of how money can be seen as the root of evil, yet that doesn’t mean it really is. To Paul, money is a tool, only its users can decide if they are for good or not. 

“All the things that King did, from Salem to Chicago all across the nation, took resources. And oftentimes when we look at a lot of advocacy work we want to think that it doesn’t require the funding and the finance to get this work done,” said Paul. 

King’s hard work, support from his community, and drive for change is what made his life’s work so impactful. As she approached her closing statement Paul shared that by considering her shared principles as guidance, everybody can accomplish a brighter future to honor Rev. King’s legacy.

“This, my friends, is how you can turn his dreams into a reality,” said Paul.

Christopher Vargas is a contributing writer at the University Press. For more information on this story or other stories, you can reach him at [email protected].