'Hurst and Erie Communities Celebrate MLK Day

The Mercyhurst and Erie communities celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day this past weekend with meals, a peace march and several service projects.

The MLK Center held its annual MLK Peace March on Monday, Jan. 19, in downtown Erie. Mercyhurst Service Learning provided transportation to students who wished to attend. There are typically 15 to 45 students who attend this march and the Mercyhurst service projects every year, according to Bethany Brun, coordinator of Service Learning.
Nhi Tran photo: People of all ages marched in downtown Erie in freezing temperatures in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this past Monday, Jan. 19.Nhi Tran photo: People of all ages marched in downtown Erie in freezing temperatures in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this past Monday, Jan. 19.
The march was followed by a luncheon at Gannon University with several speakers.

Mercyhurst had its own events on campus, including a luncheon in King’s honor, organized by Sarah Allen, director of the Campus Involvement Center, and Pertrina Marerro, director of the Multicultural Center. The luncheon, attended by more than 50 students, administrators, faculty and staff, took place on Friday, Jan. 16, in the Great Room of the Student Union.
“We asked two participants to help celebrate the MLK Legacy,” said Marerro. “Each person was responsible for presenting excerpts from two of Dr. King’s most influential pieces, ‘The Drum Major Instinct’ and ‘The Letter from the Birmingham Jail.’”

Attendees listened to a portion of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, according to Marerro, as well as a rendition of the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black American National Anthem.

Parkhurst Dining provided a birthday cake for the luncheon in honor of King’s birthday, Jan. 15, 1929.

A dinner, organized by Brun, was held on Sunday, Jan. 18, in the Student Union. It was attended by members of Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps, a service-learning program of AmeriCorps, as well as local AmeriCorps vistas and was open to any Mercyhurst students.

“We’ll probably watch a short film about issues like civil rights, have an organic discussion about it and share a meal,” Brun said prior to the dinner.

Brun organized a variety of service projects on that took place on Monday. During Service Learning’s “stuff the bus” initiative, students stood outside of a local K-Mart and Walmart and asked customers if they would donate school supplies to charity. Bags full of supplies were donated to four agencies.

Keystone SMILES members visited the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania in Erie to volunteer their time. Others sorted over 160 books in the Student Union that were then donated to six agencies.

Brun said this holiday is important to recognize.

“I’d like [people] to see that is a day on and not a day off,” said Brun. “MLK was committed and driven to support education. He sacrificed his life for striving to make everyone’s lives better. It’s good for us to sacrifice our time to support a man who did that.”

Marerro shared similar sentiments about the meaning of the holiday.

“Dr. King’s Legacy consisted of more than a speech about a dream and a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama,” said Marerro. “Today and every day, not just this moment but every moment, find ways in which you can make a difference in the life of someone else.”