The Claflin University family and friends gathered on the steps of the James and Dorothy Z. Elmore Chapel on Wednesday, Aug. 28, joining the nation to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Dozens of speakers highlighted Claflin’s observance, which concluded with a march around campus.
“Today, on our campus, we pause to commemorate, to celebrate a visionary for the ages,” Claflin University President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale said, referring to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who delivered his famed “I Have A Dream” speech -- in which he called for an end to racism in America -- on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., during the March on Washington.
Other speakers at Wednesday’s event included Claflin students, faculty and staff, as well as others representing the city of Orangeburg and local churches and organizations. Ms. Annette Grevious, associate professor of speech and theater at Claflin, gave a dramatic rendition of Sojourner Truth’s “Ain't I A Woman?” speech and the University’s Gospel Choir sang several selections.
“We are able to do things when we come together for a common goal,” Mr. Claflin, Darius Stanton reminded his fellow students. “We have a really huge responsibility that the dream is continued. We have to be sure to stay persistent and stay alert.”
Dr. Anisah Bagasra, assistant professor of psychology, reminded those gathered, “You have to love your brother as yourself, but you also have to want for your brother as you want for yourself – rights, civil rights, equality and freedom.”
Attendees were charged with tackling the issues that are affecting the younger generation and world today, including poverty and gay rights.
The March on Washington “was a challenge to the government to make right on the promises to all the people of the United States,” said Dr. Millicent Brown, associate professor of history. “Are you committed to your part in learning what challenges you face today?”
“Follow the man, follow the dream, but do not get caught up romanticizing what happened 50 years ago,” she added.
While participating in the march around campus, Claflin junior elementary education major Mr. Charles Hart said the Claflin event made him feel like he was a part of something bigger than himself or the University.
“I’m not in Washington, but I feel like I made a contribution,” he said.