Last night, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 31st Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration held at the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University.
The event was not only in celebration of MLK but a means of promoting diversity and honoring five winners of the Unsung Hero Project. The event falls right into place as today marks the first day of Black History Month and MLK was one of many historical figures to remember. However, the night wasn't just to honor MLK but also to raise awareness about activism and being active overall in the community as a citizen and person to bring about change for a better future.
Last semester, several of my classmates had the chance to document and produce a video on each of the winners of the Unsung Hero Project. I was simply there to support them and also enjoy the amazing free food. Despite being present for the food and supporting my fellow classmates, I can truly say that I enjoyed my time. One of the biggest highlights of the nights was the speech the keynote speaker, Marc Lamont Hill, gave to a crowd of almost, if not more than, 2,000 people.
His speech started off with MLK and the type of individual he was. As his speech progressed, he began to talk about more than just black history and the struggles blacks had to overcome but other issues in our society such as politics, justice, sexuality, gender, and poverty to name a few. (Just to add, while Marc is talking about these issues, his passion and way of expression his words was phenomenal as well.) More towards the end of his speech, he talks about how people aren't doing anything and aren't really willing to die for anything, to die for a cause. While his spiel about this continues, he says something that really stood out to me - "Life is a terminal illness." Basically, life is a death sentence because in the end, we all die.
That idea made me think. Yes, we are all afraid of dying but we can't let our fear of death prevent us from doing more than just working a 9-5 job, coming home from work, sitting on the couch, and watching TV. We need to do more than that. We need to make purpose of ourselves and one of those ways is to get involved with our community - no matter where it may be. While Marc's words were truly inspiring and made me want to get involved, I am not the type of person who would WANT to do that. I think the only way to make a difference is if you WANT to.
For everyone else who has thought about being involved but can never get themselves to do so, I think there is something else that can definitely be done. It is simply to be considerate of everyone around you - respect one another, help one another, care for one another, etc.
One way I see myself possibly making a change or at least bringing attention to issues is through photography. Although I decided to stray away from photojournalism, there is a part of it that keeps pulling me back in. It is the desire to want to uncover what is going on in our world and bring that to light in the public eye. This is the exact reason I got into journalism in the first place. Only time will tell where it will take me.