Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorated at BYU, other places in Utah County

BYU students organize day of service projects to honor king

By Tori Ackerman

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Jan. 16 2012 11:54 p.m. MST

Rachelle Price, left, and Melanie Leavitt participate in a candlelight processional, with sound bites from Martin Luther King Jr.'s life, at BYU in Provo on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

PROVO — Martin Luther King Jr.'s powerful voice echoed through the walkways of Brigham Young University's campus Monday, accompanying a candlelight procession to end a daylong celebration honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The procession and subsequent program were preceded by the annual Community Outreach Day, a day of service to commemorate the holiday.

"I think just the sheer act of remembrance is an important thing," said Anthony Bates, coordinator of Black History Month for BYU's Multicultural Student Services. "It is important to reflect and remember his life, his mission and what he did for each and every one of us."

The theme for Community Outreach Day, chosen by BYU's Center for Service and Learning, Utah Valley University and United Way of Utah County, was King's heed: "Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve."

"Provo exceeds the national average by 41/2 times of number of volunteers in the city," said Provo Mayor John Curtis, who shared remarks at the beginning of the day. "It tells you a lot about the culture and attitude of the people here."

Service opportunities were set up around the Wilkinson Student Center for the 1,100 participants, including making and painting wooden cars for preschools, making quilts and donating blood. Even more service opportunities were offered at places such as the Provo and Orem libraries, Animal Medical Services, the Red Cross and the Springville Museum, with a total of 35 service destinations.

"We had a day off of school and a day off of work, and we thought it would be great to serve as a family," said Shane Farnsworth, principal of American Fork Jr. High and participant in the service day. "I think instead of focusing on our own entertainment, it helps us do something together to help someone else."

Farnsworth brought his wife, Meri Ann Farnsworth, and five children ages 7-17 to the day of service. The family made Valentine's Day cards for senior citizens together.

Charles Krebs, a program director with BYU's Center for Service and Learning, said the preparation for this year began right after last year's successful event.

"To see it pay off today is just fantastic and to see so many people come and get together as a community," Krebs said. "The pieces fit together today, and we've created a beautiful puzzle."

The day ended with the annual Walk of Life: a celebration of the life and mission of Martin Luther King Jr. The candlelight procession began at the Carillon Bell Tower, and throughout were sounds of important quotes and sound bites from King's life.

Duane Domino, a graduate student from Brigham Young University and participant in the candlelight procession, said this day has special meaning for him, as his parents marched for civil rights in the 1960s and were thrown in jail for their beliefs.

"As I walk through and look at everyone here, I wonder where they would be without a Martin Luther King. I know I wouldn't be here," Domino said.

The walk ended at the Wilkinson Center, where remarks were made by keynote speaker Keith Hamilton, BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School's first black graduate and author of the recently published book "Last Laborer: Thoughts and Reflections of a Black Mormon."

"Dr. King had a dream," Hamilton said in his speech. "It is my prayer that we continue to have the vision to make his dream a reality. May we rise up tonight with a greater readiness. May we stand with greater determination. And may we move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be."

Email: tackerman@desnews.com

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