By Caroline Wall
A clear blue Monday morning lay ahead of Salem College faculty, students, and community members as they set out to march from Salem College’s main hall to the M.C. Benton Convention Center on West Fifth Street. This walk, attended by 25 marchers, was modeled after the famous civil rights marches during the time of Martin Luther King, Jr. In order to commemorate the life and accomplishments of this activist and hero, Krishauna Hines-Gaither, professor at Salem College, mapped out the march to end at the Benton Convention Center for the annual MLK Birthday Celebration, which this year included a live viewing of President Obama’s inauguration.
Hines-Gaither stood on the steps of Salem College and explained the importance of the march. She is currently teaching a Women’s Studies course at the college focused on the activism of Dr. Maya Angelou. “Few people are aware that Dr. Maya Angelou was a leader in the SCLC and she worked with both Dr. King and Malcolm X. She used her talents as a writer and performer to further the cause of civil rights and social justice,” she says. “In honor of Dr. King, Dr. Angelou, and the many other named and unnamed men and women who fought for our freedom, our class would like to take a symbolic walk.”
Professor Hines-Gaither added, “May the work to create a community that is deliberately inclusive and that honors diversity march on with every student, staff, faculty & administrator who occupy a Salem College desk.”
The energy was palpable and friendly despite bitter gusts of wind. Smiles were in abundance on every face. At one point in the march voices rang out singing the Civil Rights anthem, We Shall Overcome. Maegan Davis, a sophomore at Salem College told CCD, “People in our generation often forget about the fight for rights. In reality, the struggle was lethal for some. It is important to remember the fight of Dr. Martin Luther King is still relevant. It’s time to put to use what he fought for.”
Another sophomore at Salem, Patricia Bolling, added: “I’m ashamed to say that this is the first time I’ve taken part in a walk like this. However, I know it is never too late to do my little part one mile at a time. We all need to do something to raise our voice.”
A small crowd of around 150 watched inaugural festivities including the President’s history making address in which a President, for the first time, acknowledged America’s gay community mentioning Selma and Stonewall in the same sentence. Other activities at the Center included speeches and reflections from Mutter Evans, the founder and organizer of the event, comments by Mayor Allen Joines, and a special recognition of the work and lives of Dr. John Mendez, and Linda Sutton.