Martin Luther King Jr. ceremony hosts award-winning judge as speaker

Judge Glenda Hatchett speaks at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Program Jan. 11 in the Guillot University Center Performance Center. Her theme was, ““Where are we going to stand in times like these?””

Students, faculty, staff and community members gathered on campus Jan. 11 for a ceremony celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.

The festivities began with a flashlight vigil at Memorial Amphitheater. The vigil honored many who have and are dedicating their lives worldwide in pursuit of freedom and justice for all, including Jimmie Lee Jackson, Malala Yousafzai and Harvey Milk.

Those in attendance them marched to the Guillot University Center Performance Center to the vocals of senior David Hughes singing, “We Shall Overcome.”

The indoors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Program included keynote speaker Glenda Hatchett, whose accomplishments range from award-winning television judge to spokesperson for Court Appointed Special Advocates and founder of her firm, Hatchett Firm.

Hatchett’s theme was, “Where are we going to stand in times like these?”

She said in times of controversy or hardship, such as the police shooting of motorist Philando Castile in July 2016, it is important to ask this question. Hatchett represents the Castile family in the case, which is the first to charge a Minnesota officer with a civilian death.

Hatchett also gave a homework assignment: by Sunday at midnight, she asked the audience to figure out what they have always wanted to do and have not. Then, ask, “why not?”

Doing so will help keep King’s legacy alive, she said.

“You don’t want to wake up and look back and say, ‘Why didn’t I do it? Why didn’t I take that step? Why didn’t I believe in myself enough to believe I could get this done?”

“You’ve got to do what you’ve been called to do.”

Hatchett ended her speech with a tale from her childhood. In her first grade Atlanta classroom, she received a book from her teacher with a missing page.

When she asked the teacher for a new book, her teacher said, “Colored children don’t get new books.”

When she told her father what happened, he said, “She’s right. So you need to go into your room, get your crayons, sit down and write your own story.”

This anecdote was sophomore Kitoriah Johnson’s favorite part of the program.

“It reminds me to just write my own story,” she said. “It reminds me to make my life how it should be.”

The program also featured a musical performance from senior Tia Nall and alumnus Thaddeus Rowell and awarding of the Student Diversity Award to senior Jose Figueroa-Cifuentes.

Afterward, Hatchett held a signing for her book, “Dare to Take Charge: How to Live Your Life on Purpose.”