OSU, Stillwater community unite for MLK Day march
Monday, January 16, 2023
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The Stillwater community and Cowboy family gathered on Oklahoma State University’s campus Monday afternoon to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
OSU and Stillwater Community United (SCU) joined for the third annual unity march. The SCU march began at Southern Woods Park and combined with OSU at the Spears School of Business to hear speakers like Dr. Jason Kirksey, OSU vice president for institutional diversity and chief diversity officer, Dr. Doug Hallenbeck, OSU vice president for student affairs, and Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce.
As the OSU crowd of students, professors and faculty gathered to continue the walk to The Mcknight Center for the Performing Arts, Brittanie Cannon, OSU psychology student began the combined march by singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Kirksey said that meeting every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day broadens and deepens the connection between the school and community.
“The continued cultivation and strengthening of this partnership with the city of Stillwater is integral to all of us seeking to advance our efforts of achieving Dr. King’s dream,” Kirksey said. “As we are gathered here today, I encourage each of us to be bold in our beliefs and courageous in our convictions as we individually and collectively pursue the call to action of Dr. King's dream. I encourage us to ask ourselves, as well as those around us, especially our family, friends and classmates, if we are committed to Dr. King's legacy of justice, equality and love for humanity. And more importantly, what efforts we engage in every day to get closer to his dream. I ask that we show empathy and give grace to each other. And I challenge all of us to become better listeners to each other, to commit to learn from one another and aspire to make our community a better place to live, learn, work and love our neighbors.”
Joyce emphasized understanding the Stillwater community’s history in hopes of moving forward to a better future.
“May we move forward on this march inspired by Dr. King's vision to strengthen our connections, to reach out to our neighbors and to remain dedicated to healing opportunity and justice for all.”
The march continued through OSU’s campus after Joyce finished speaking, finishing at The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts where Hallenbeck introduced someone who embodies the land-grant mission of uplifting and improving the lives of Oklahomans — student keynote speaker Tré Smith.
Smith is a recent OSU alumnus who graduated in December 2022 with a bachelor's degree from the Ferguson College of Agriculture in agricultural communications with minors in marketing and Africana studies.
Smith hails from Sand Springs, Oklahoma, and is an entrepreneur. He is passionate about Black history and honoring the sacrifices made by leaders who worked tirelessly for future generations to have the opportunities they have today. He recently launched TreBee Farms LLC, where he and a team of young leaders inspire, encourage and instill confidence in young people to know that their dreams can become a reality.
“At times, I feel as if we have forgotten the sacrifices that our elders have made for us to be where we are today. We must recognize that our everyday lives and the opportunities which we take for granted could not have been a reality if it wasn't for the sacrifices of the men, women and children that came before us. The pioneers that were willing to crawl so we could one day run,” Smith said. “We have an obligation to continue to be the movers and the shakers of change.”
“Today, I simply dare you to dream. Make it your mission to be a part of the change you want to see in our world.”
As part of the 2023 MLK Jr. Celebration, the Student Affairs Programming Committee placed poster boards across campus with questions such as, "What does the Cowboy Code mean to you?", "How do you care for your fellow Cowboys?" and "How do fellow Cowboys inspire you to chase your dreams?" Students are encouraged to take a post-it and leave their responses. The boards will then be on display in the McKnight Center for Performing Arts lobby for An Evening with Jay Ellis at 6 p.m. Jan. 19.