Students, faculty and university administrators marched together from Cheadle Hall to Storke Plaza on Tues., Jan 19 to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his influence in the ongoing movement for civil rights and racial harmony. The annual silent march brings members of the University of California, Santa Barbara community together to demonstrate the importance of having a voice.
LaDonte King, Associated Students Associate Director of Government Affairs, spread images commemorating major moments in the life of Dr. King. “I think the rain is fitting,” King said, under the cover of an umbrella, “because this is an image of Dr. King on a protest march in the rain.”
Marchers walked through the rain, in silence, across campus to represent solidarity with those living under unjust systems in which they cannot speak out. “Imagery speaks in the silence,” King said.
With each step forward, the marchers represented all the people who walk in the face of forces of disenfranchisement and inequality every day without having their voices heard. Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval, professor in the Department of Chican@ Studies, said to the crowd, “I will walk; I won’t let these forces turn me around.”
The group walked to the Black Student Union exhibit at North Hall, where Aaron Jones, AS Assistant Director for Community Affairs, Student Engagement and Advocacy, spoke of Dr. King’s legacy, “A legacy that would inspire a movement,” Jones said.
Standing at the very spot where 12 African American students barricaded North Hall in 1968 to protest systemic inequality at the university. “Dr. King gave them inspiration to do great things,” Jones said.
“Martin Luther King Jr. was the face of civil disobedience, and gave generations the tactics to plan events toward justice,” Mohsin Mirza, AS External Vice President for Statewide Affairs, said.
Four months after his death in 1968, Dr. King’s model of civil disobedience led UCSB students to speak out against the racial inequality they saw in the school’s policy in a nonviolent manner. Dr. King’s inspiration further led the UCSB community to march silently across campus this Tuesday, 48 years later.
“Even this march is a revolution,” Dr. Mia White, professor in the Department of Black Studies, said. Dr. White spoke of Dr. King’s impact in today’s society. She thanked the helpful action of student organizations such as Alpha Phi Alpha and the Graduate Students Association, which were critical in the planning of this march.
“We march not in honor of what Dr. King did, but what he empowers us to do,” Dr. White said. “He continues to give a voice to those who trudge on in silence.”
At Storke Plaza, the group ended the march with some words from Dr. Felice Blake, professor in the Department of English. She spoke about the essential role of activists like King to motivate those who are otherwise silent.
“He cared for the people with the least,” Dr. Blake said. “And that is the reason why he inspires us to take that next step.”