Martin Luther King would have been eighty-five on January 15 of this year. To memorialize him, Martin Luther King day was celebrated this past Monday. Although the Colorado School of Mines does not take this day off, it was commemorated by holding a breakfast in his honor. At Mines, Martin Luther King Day is also the start of the week known as Delta Day, a celebration of how much Mines has changed over the years.
This years MLK Day Community Breakfast began with a delicious meal, followed by the presentation of the MLK, Jr. Recognition Awards and comments from Dr. Derrick Hudson. The first award recipient was Chelsea Sandridge, who works in the International Affairs Office and does an amazing job providing a welcoming atmosphere to the international students who attend Mines. The second award went to Dr. Moskal. Dr. Moskal received the award because of her instrumental role in developing programs to promote diversity in the STEM field and at Mines. And the final award went to Dr. Hudson for his tremendous community outreach for underrepresented minorities to promote education and inclusion.
Dr. Hudson was not only an award recipient, but also the keynote speaker at the breakfast. He spoke on the single encounter between Malcolm X and Martin King. To get people in the mindset of the time 40 years ago, Dr Hudson played the song “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. The song’s three beat gospel heartbeat has the power to make anyone feel the deep sorrow that in Mr. Cooke’s voice, and a great way to get people’s mindset in the right place.
After the song, Dr. Hudson gave the audience a little background on the two Civil Rights leaders. Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in 1925, he was a hustler in Harlem and felt nonviolence would not work to gain rights. Malcolm spoke to the Blues heartbeat and for black people, while King spoke for all people.
From there, Dr. Hudson explained how Martin Luther King had a dream, he assumed the issue was not love, instead the issue was justice. Dr. Hudson told a few more stories about Malcolm X and Martin Luther King that helped portray the kind of people these two powerful men were. He told a story about how after four little girls were killed in a Birmingham church, Martin became very defiant and more like Malcolm X. On the flip side, after Malcolm X converted to Islam he traveled to Mecca where he prayed beside a white, blue eyed man. From this Malcolm realized that any person could be Muslim and that the rights of all people were important, similar to the original beliefs of Martin Luther King. Dr. Hudson showed that these two men in a way switched views and to be fully understood must be looked at the context of each other. Because of the limited time, Dr. Hudson had to close with just a couple quick remarks. The first was a challenge for the audience, Dr. Hudson wants us to “breakdown the barriers between the STEM fields and think more creatively and proactively.” The final was in regards to Martin Luther King’s final speech about being a good samaritan, “when you see a man on the side of the road instead of asking ‘if I stop what will happen to me?’ we ought to ask ‘if I don’t stop what will happen to him.”
Promoting diversity and change at the Colorado School of Mines with the Martin Luther King Community Breakfast was a great way to start Delta Days and any week.