Students Urged to Remember Dr. King’s Legacy

Jan 21, 2014

by Cary McMullen | Publications Editor

Urging her listeners to “take over the honor” of the cause of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Florida Southern College Trustee Evett L. Simmons ’79 delivered a stirring message at the annual campus celebration of King’s life and legacy. 

The celebration, held Monday in the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel, was organized by the FSC Multicultural Student Council. Khadijah Williams, vice president of the council, welcomed students, faculty, staff, and guests by saying the event was not only a celebration of Dr. King “but of truth, justice, love, compassion, and the never-ending struggle for equality.”

The celebration included a video presentation, created by council members, in which King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech was recreated in part with FSC students, faculty, and staff reading portions of it. Simmons, an attorney and shareholder with the law firm Greenspoon Marder, P.A., in Port St. Lucie and a nationally recognized advocate for civil rights and diversity, delivered a reflection on King’s life.

She began with a quote from King about the power of love to establish justice: “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. … Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Simmons said she discovered an essay King had written while still a student at Morehouse College, stating that the purpose of education is to enable people to discern truth from falsehood and fact from fiction.

“I’m a firm believer in the value of education, because, as our Jewish friends say of the Holocaust, lest we remember, we repeat,” she said.

Simmon then read a poem she composed, Black History in Prose, which recounted the suffering, hopes, struggles, and victories of African-Americans.

“If we don’t remember the dark days of America, we are likely to repeat them,” she said. “I challenge you to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal. Otherwise we are walking down into a dark forest without a GPS.”

FSC President Anne Kerr offered concluding remarks, telling the students present that carrying King’s legacy means “what comes after him depends upon us.”

“You come to us with dreams, and you refine and expand them. We’re here to encourage you,” she said. “When you get discouraged, keep that legacy at the forefront of what you can do. There’s a world of opportunity before you, but it comes with a price.”

The celebration concluded with Brianna Hill leading the audience in the traditional singing of We Shall Overcome.