Students, Community Commemorate Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK Day

On Monday, Jan. 17, 2017, an estimated 200 people marched from Elizabeth City State University in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ending at Sheep Harney Elementary School in Elizabeth City.

The annual march celebrating Martin Luther King Day brought out ECSU and College of the Albemarle students, members of the Pasquotank County NAACP, and community members. The event culminated in a panel discussion in the elementary school auditorium, emceed by Eric Poyner, an ECSU police officer.

The theme of the march and the discussion, “How Do We Lift Every Voice,” posed the general question: How does a community keep Dr. King’s work and dream alive?

ECSU Student Government Association President Ajanae Willis opened the discussion acknowledging that the march is paying homage to those who have gone before them. And the day’s events was an acknowledgement that, “All of us must do our part to continue this legacy.”

“We have so much work to do,’ said Willis. “The legacy of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement was never supposed to end.”

When Eric Poyner took the podium, he posed several questions to panelists Keith Rivers of the Pasquotank County NAACP, ECSU Student Government Association Vice President Dwayne Ponton, Miss ECSU Brittany Lamb, and Elizabeth City Police Chief Eddie Buffaloe. The questions themselves focused on the need to solve the problems of injustice in the U.S., today, and how to carry the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement forward.

Chief Buffaloe cited a need to take the Civil Rights Movement back to its roots, in the church.

“The church has been the centerpiece and core of our community,” he said.

Brittany Lamb cited the need to support African American businesses, assisting in the success of the community.

Ponton observed that, “Everyone must come together,” if change is to take place in this country. People, he said, must begin to find common ground.

Keith Rivers, while echoing Chief Buffaloe’s assertion that the community must return to its roots, also said education is key if there is going to be change. Equal access to education, he said, must be preserved, and not dismantled.

The event ended with questions from the audience. ECSU students engaged the panelists with questions and discussion.

The MLK Day march and panel discussion were sponsored by the ECSU Student Affairs office.