Black History Month Opening Ceremony Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.


Every seat and every inch of wall space of the dining room was filled as the Foothill College community awaited the Opening Ceremony of Black History Month this past Wednesday. The event honored the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, an iconic figure in the fight for civil rights.

Co-sponsored by the Black History Month Planning Committee and the Associated Students of Foothill College Activities Council, the event hosted an array of speakers, including our very own Student Trustee, Chinwe Idika, the President of Foothill College, Thuy Thi Nguyen, and the former Mayor of Oakland, Elihu M. Harris.

June Foundry opened the event, leading the Foothill Community in singing “lift every voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring.”

The song, Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing is often referred to as the “Black National Anthem” and has been adopted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as their official song.

Following the song, actor and playwright Brandon Dewes, who starred as Martin Luther King Jr. in “I Have A Dream: The Play,” came to the stage to perform excerpts from the famous ”I Have A Dream” speech.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” Dewes recited.

His words echoed throughout the cafeteria as students applauded Dewes, eagerly awaiting keynote speaker Harris.

President Nguyen introduced Harris with a speech, encouraging students to look at the “content of their character,” and get involved with the Foothill College community.

Harris echoed the sentiment, explaining that Black History Month is a time to understand hardships faced by African-Americans, but also to understand the meaning and importance of equality. Harris, during his time as a California State Legislator, authored the bill designating Dr. King’s birthday a state holiday.

“It’s about our collective humanity,” Harris said.

Foothill Student Jason Hafidi agreed with Harris, saying that it is important to remember that Dr. King affected not just people of color but everybody.

“Martin Luther King was a great man and since this day is dedicated to him we have to come together and take part it an event like this because it involves us all,” Hafidi said.

Harris stressed the relevance of Black history month and collective humanity to today, pointing out the behavior of our government and the political challenges we face.

“Every child should wake up in this country with a sense of opportunity,” Harris said.
“Try to learn something new.”

Regardless of a person’s racial background, Harris encouraged all to appreciate the importance and relevance of Black History Month.