Wilkes Hosts MLK Jr. Celebration: “Fostering a Sense of Belonging”

by Mandy Pennington

Members of the Wilkes community gathered in the Jean and Paul Adams Commons on Tuesday, Jan. 30 to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through song, speech and dance.

Regina Graham, the program director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Geisinger Health Systems, provided the keynote address. Graham reflected on personal experiences with racism she faced as early as her years in elementary school and her journey to learning how to live as her authentic self. Graham also encouraged listeners to network with others, especially those of backgrounds different from one’s own, to get involved in the community and to be an ally to others. Graham ended her speech by challenging listeners to live their lives authentically and to be true to themselves.

Erica Acosta, director of diversity initiatives, and President Greg Cant also said some words about the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mary Simmons, director of alumni engagement, sang the American National Anthem.

Students featured in the program included Kobina Otoo, junior psychology major and president of the Wilkes African Cultural Association, who delivered the invocation. Katherine Ermeus, senior political science major and president of the Multicultural Student Coalition, sang the Black National Anthem. Edweana Alexis, junior political science and communications studies major, delivered a piece of slam poetry entitled “The Black Experience.” Members of the Wilkes Step Team ended the program with a performance.

@wilkesu The Wilkes University Step Team was featured in yesterday's "Fostering a Sense of Belonging" program in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day #wilkesu #wilkesuniversity #stepteam ♬ original sound – Wilkes University

A complimentary lunch catered by Caribbean Paradise was offered to attendees after the program.

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