Middletown, Va. - Students at Lord Fairfax Community College gathered to pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the man who through his actions became the face of the American Civil Rights Movement.
"So many of us are so mixed up now, we're not just one nationality," said student Camille Gibson, who also sang “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” composed by Duke Ellington for the entertainment portion of the ceremony.
"I was really glad to have the opportunity to hear some of the other speakers, and hear some of the encouragement that they shared,’ said Joe Zink, the essay winner of the Walking King’s Talk Essay Contest.
Organizers say MLK Day was even more significant this year, with the recent death of another civil rights activist, Nelson Mandela.
"Centuries after both King and Mandela have died, we will still be talking about the great men that they are, because they were men of principle," said Dr. Miles Davis, Dean of Shenandoah University’s School of Business, and the guest speaker at the event.
Davis challenged students to look beyond the famous phrase in King's "I Have A Dream" speech.
"They may have dreams about higher education, or dreams of a different career, or dreams of a different life,” Daivs began. “Well Martin Luther King, in his life, particularly in that “I Have A Dream” speech, lays out a plan for them to follow to have their life be more than just a dream."
When asked what the next steps were for Virginia’s local civil rights movement, everyone had different problems they felt were the next to solve.
"Now the conversation that we're seeing in our society, particularly in South Africa, is economic justice,” said Daivs.
He believes that raising the minimum wage in Virginia, and working with state legislature, corporate institutions and individual counseling will drastically help bring equality towards minorities.
"Personally, I think inter-racial equality. My mother is white and my father is black. So a lot of inter-racial couple, a lot of them feel not accepted in society," said Gibson.
"Perhaps what I’ll take away from this is to be able to encourage others in a like way," said Zink.