The University of West Georgia hosted its 14th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Tuesday, with guest speaker Carlos Mavins Jr. encouraging attendees to find their purpose and live it every day.
Mavins – who founded the Bridge to Leadership, a nonprofit organization that helps college students in their transition to adulthood, and travels around the world promoting this platform and empowering generations of leaders – was the keynote speaker for the event, which carried the theme of “Together, We Can Be the Dream.”
“Leadership starts with you,” Mavins told attendees. “I didn’t let the circumstances of my life prevent me from being great. Know your purpose and you will carry yourself a certain way when you know who you are. Dr. King was confident that his purpose was to fight for justice and equality for all by any means necessary.”
Dr. Brendan Kelly, UWG’s president, opened the celebration with remarks on what it means to celebrate King’s legacy at UWG.
“Being in close proximity to Dr. King’s birthplace in the Atlanta metropolitan area, the legacy of Dr. King lives on in an intimate way at the University of West Georgia,” Kelly said. “When you are in the place where the history actually happened, it comes to life in a special way. That is what we celebrate today.”
Kelly recalled last year’s celebration that featured Jawana Jackson, who spoke about her personal experience of being mentored by King. Kelly stated that this empowering mentorship that King exemplified is an outcome UWG curates for its students.
“One thing we emphasize more than anything is that when you come to a university, you need both teachers and mentors,” he explained. “We encourage the pouring of one person into another in order to be better every day. That is the underpinning of finding belongingness and feeling connected.”
The UWG Chamber Singers, including soloist Nicholas Fletcher, also performed during the event, which concluded with a time of reflection and discussion among attendees on how they would like to be remembered.
Tyler Gates, UWG student and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., also presented a spoken word piece in honor of King.
“As I think about Black history, my mind takes me back to my ancestors,” Gates said. “I often wonder if they were nervous, anxious and afraid, never knowing what to expect day by day. I can image their smiles knowing now that what they endured would become well-known in history.”