Winter 2016 Newsletter
"Be Present – Represent" Event Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Renee Collins, TJ Robinson II, and Jordan Butler participate in the Dr. King Day celebration.
Photo by Rhys Logan
In January, Western held its second annual celebration of the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for students, faculty, staff and the wider community. The January 19 event included performances by TJ Robinson II, a 10th grade student at Lynden High School and winner of 2014 and 2015 oratorical contests held as part of Alachua County, Florida’s Dr. King Day celebrations, and the son of Western’s Counseling Center Director Shari Robinson; Marshall Hatch, a civil rights leader and the senior pastor at New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, and; Crystal Valentine, a poetry slam champion and student studying Creative Writing and Adolescent Mental Health at New York University.
Pastor Hatch spoke about the work of Dr. King, racism in the United States today, and the important organizing work young people are undertaking to demand racial justice in Chicago and across the country. Through her poetry, Crystal Valentine powerfully spoke to experiences as a Black woman with oppression and resilience. Dr. Reneé Collins, Associate Dean of Students, and Jordan Butler, a Black Student Union Board member, were emcees for the program.
“Be Present – Represent” was organized by a planning committee led by Leonard Jones, Director of University Residences and Jordan Butler. Jones described the celebration as “a ‘wow’ moment for our Western Washington community.” According to Jones, “with Rev. Dr. Hatch’s perspective, a prominent civil rights leader, living and practicing Dr. King’s message in the ‘real world of inner city 21st century’ America, coupled with the solidly grounded future generational voices of TJ and Crystal Valentine, Western scored a coup of speaker talent to present powerful and relevant messages of the ‘now and forward’ work of justice and inclusion."
The event was supported by the President’s Office and the Division of Enrollment and Student Services.