Courtesy Photo /

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo /

Austin Metz

Grand Valley State University students, faculty and staff will gather on the front steps of Allendale’s Zumberge Library today at 1 p.m. to kick off the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Silent March.

“We will at that time welcome everyone for coming out and participating and then we will remind them that it is a silent march,” said Bobby Springer, associate director of multicultural affairs.

Though GVSU has hosted these commemorative marches for many years on campus, Springer said it has only been within the last decade that the university decided to change it to a silent march.

“We wanted people to reflect,” Springer said. “Before that time, people would be having conversations through the march but we wanted silence because we wanted people to reflect.”

The march will lead participants through GVSU’s campus and organizers have decided to also line the path with information about Martin Luther King Jr. Springer explained that the signs will include information about King’s birth, education, and other significant information about his life, work and ideology.

Brionka Mosley is the Treasurer for the Black Student Union and she provided the student opinion in the planning of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day events.

“I think it’s significant to take that time to be able to walk and think back and reflect on what you are doing and what you have done in a positive light,” Mosley said. “Not only what you have done but what you have done to help others. Whether it is publically or privately, thinking back on your life on what you have done.”

Springer said that in the past, those who could not make it to the library by 1 p.m. were welcome to join the back of the line at any point along the way.

Although the entire day is devoted to King Jr., Springer hoped that the walk would cause students to think about the past.

“I would like them to step back in time and just know that there was some brave people who stood up and believed in civil rights, believed in standing together to make this a better place for all people,” Springer said. “…We believe in what we are marching for and we are here to do just that. I want people to know that there were other people who sacrificed and I want them to experience it by participating in the march.”

This is the first year GVSU students will not have class on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so Springer and other administrators are encouraging students to take advantage of the free day to come out and participate in not only the silent march, but a whole host of other events aimed at honoring King’s legacy.

“I just want students to come out and participate,” Springer said. “I’m hoping that the students as well as the Grand Valley community will come out and participate so this can be a new day that we continue in the future.”
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