The Penn State Forum on Black Affairs kicked off celebrations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday with a discussion on Friday with Black alumni from the Class of 1972.
The alumni in the discussion were freshmen when King was killed and remembered the assasination well.
Barry Reddish said Black students like him made up about 1% of the student population back then. He said they were able to find a community with each other after King’s death.
“Every Black person spoke to every Black person whether you knew them or not. It was that acknowledgement that you know you were connected to every other person there,” he said.
The panelists agreed universities like Penn State can do more to recruit and retain Black students. Alumnae Gary Abdullah believes reaching out into communities and across generations can help.
“There’s always gonna be young people coming along ready to rock the house and shake things up," Abdullah said. "But if they don’t connect with the old heads then it’s inevitable that the wheel is going to be reinvented.”
Penn State will continue to celebrate King’s legacy throughout the week with virtual service events, discussions and debates.