Elon march and vigil commemorate MLK Jr.

Fifty people from the university and surrounding communities reflected Sunday on Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and the lessons he taught.

Participants in the 2012 Peace Journey marched from Moseley Center to the Academic Village.


Members of the greater Elon University community marched through the heart of campus Sunday evening on their way to a candlelight vigil in the Academic Village where, one after another, students and professors reflected on the legacy of a slain civil rights leader who would have turned 83 on the very day of their remembrance.

The 2012 Beloved Community Peace Journey & Candlelight Vigil commenced at the Boney Fountain outside Moseley Center, then took participants down Haggard and Williamson avenues before heading east on Lebanon Avenue toward the Academic Village.

The Candlelight Vigil included reflections on MLK from students, faculty, staff and the community.

Along the way, participants read quotes from the likes of Henry David Thoreau, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King and others, the passages helping to remind the crowd of five themes: a focus on the importance of the journey, practicing nonviolence, serving others, being the change and experimenting with deeper values.

The Peace Journey was billed as a community march “to commemorate the many lives lost and sacrifices made in the work to eradicate hate and oppression.” It was sponsored by the Black Cultural Society, Latina American Student Organization, Spectrum, Amnesty International, Peace and Justice, and Greek Life.

“The fact that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched with tens, then hundreds, then thousands of people in the South, just like we’re doing, this is a full circle we’re remembering today,” said Elon University junior Trishelle Byrd, a business management major and member of the planning committee that organized the program. “Though we’re not where we should be in 2012, we’ve come a far distance. I think he would be proud.”

Elon freshman John Anderson: ““You don’t live to be something. You live to be someone.”

Some participants in the peace journey hailed from the surrounding community, as was the case with Steve Burton, who also sang a short hymn during the vigil.

“I remember days pre-MLK and that struggle, and obviously, I’ve reaped the benefits post-MLK,” Burton said as he walked down Lebanon Avenue with the crowd. “This is one of those things in the community I can participate in to my respect for the struggle.”

And at the vigil, described as an “outdoor assembly and testament of triumph over acts of oppression,” students of various races, creeds, sexual orientations and socioeconomic backgrounds put forward their own stories, and their own pieces of wisdom, to demonstrate the power of social change and how work remains to be done in society.

Included in those remarks was a plea from Elon freshman John Anderson, of California, who pointed to the ideas of love that King espoused.

Both events welcomed students of all backgrounds.

“You don’t live to be something. You live to be someone,” Anderson remarked, warning that the world as it exists continues to witness a struggle between fear and love. “Fear is the heart of darkness.”