“The Fierce Urgency of Now”, students celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. virtually


Talitha Washington delivers her keynote speech via zoom Monday, as part of USI’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.

Josh Meredith, Photo Editor

Students celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. a little differently this year due to the pandemic.

The annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial celebration week started Monday morning and is being held virtually for the first time. 

“We are thankful for technology in times like these,” said Pamela Hopson, executive director of the university’s multicultural center.

Hopson served as mistress of ceremonies and welcomed attendees to the first event via Youtube live. 

Jordan Hibbler, freshman biology major, introduced Keynote Speaker Talitha Washington on Monday. Washington served as a member of the University of Evansville’s staff from 2005 to 2011. 

During her presentation, Washington shared a brief biography of fellow mathematician and Evansville native Elbert Frank Cox Evansville’s history of racial tension to educate the attendees. Cox was the first African American to receive a doctorate in mathematics.

In her speech, Washington spoke on the problems of voter suppression and predictive policing within black communities. She stated that black people are targeted by predictive policing at twice the rate of white people. 

“This is disturbing,” she said. “We saw over the last year how blacks on film and video are being way over-targeted by police.” 

Washington went on to reiterate the theme of this year’s celebration, “The Fierce Urgency of Now,” saying that these problems must be addressed immediately due to overwhelming racial tension in America. 

 “We as a country have to do better,” Washington said. “Together we can bring some new life to this country, in a way that hasn’t been there before.”

She advised that anyone who wished to inspire change should speak up and above all be patient with the uncertainty of the present time. 

Students had their chance to speak up at Tuesday’s event, honoring the life and legacy of King as well as reflecting on current events. 

“Today our country is facing the greatest threat to democracy and justice we have seen in the modern time,” said Anna Ardelean, Junior political science major. “Many Americans are feeling called to be more like Dr. King in response to the fierce urgency of now.”

Ardelean, as well as four other student orators, spoke on Tuesday. All of which took part in the university’s Annual Black History Month Oratorical Competition.

The Martin Luther King memorial celebration week continues through Friday. A list and recordings of the daily events can be found on the university’s website.