OU Students continue to honor Dr. King’s Vision

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Oakland University hosted it’s 24th annual Keeper of the Dream Award celebrations in the Oakland Center on Martin Luther King day. 

Alexus Bomar

Oakland University and the Center for Multicultural Initiatives (CMI) continues to honor student leaders who display Dr. King’s vision here on campus with the Keeper of the Dream Award (KOD) ceremony.

On Jan. 18, five students, Carlie Austin, Myshia Liles-Moultrie, Christina Root, Betira Shahollari and Tasha Tinglan, were recognized because of their efforts of promoting diversity and cultural understanding here at OU.

The ceremony started with elementary education major K’Yera McClinic’s performance of the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson. 

President Hynd spoke briefly about the five students who were honored and said how important it is to display Dr. King’s vision wherever you go.

“I am truly proud to be a part of a community that takes initiative of community equality as seriously as OU does,” President Hynd said.

Hynd also congratulated the students because they found the courage and determination to step outside of their comfort zones, and said that all students should strive to do the same.

Both Omar Brown-El, director of the CMI, and the CMI staff appreciate the effort Hynd has made.

“A man, who in a short time, demonstrated enthusiastic and unwavering support in efforts to create a diverse and welcoming environment here at Oakland University,” Brown-El said.

The awards were presented and each student was introduced with a brief story focusing on their accomplishments, along with a video showing the students describing the KOD award in their own words. 

All five of the students agreed that it’s great to see the work they did isn’t going unnoticed and are grateful for the sponsors who made the award possible.

According to the CMI website, The Keeper of the Dream Award was established in January 1993 to recognize and honor OU students who have contributed to interracial understanding and good will. The KOD scholarship award celebration honors the late civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Up to six scholarships are awarded to students who show exceptional leadership qualities through campus and community involvement, as well as removing both racial and cultural stereotypes.  

This year’s keynote speaker, LeVar Burton, is mostly known as the host of the Emmy-winning PBS children’s series “Reading Rainbow,” along with his iconic role as Kunta Kinte in the television series “Roots.”

During his speech, Burton spoke highly of his mother, who showed him the importance of reading. Constant reading is what got Burton to where he is today, he said.

“I come from a family where education is pretty much the family business, but I do believe that I have the opportunity to fulfill that part of the family mission as an educator, and I consider the most important work I did was to be the host of ‘Reading Rainbow,” he said.

“Carlie, Christina, Tasha, Myshia and Betira, you are all awesome women,” he said.

Burton was impressed by all five students for what they have achieved thus far and said he is excited for what they will continue to do.

He ended his address with this quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Love is truly stronger than fear, and more than anything else, it is fear that separates us from our full potential, and manifesting the secrets of our hearts is our desire.”

After the KOD award ceremony, everyone gathered in the Pioneer Food Court of the OC to enjoy food, music and a meet and greet with Burton.  This was also the opening ceremony for African American Celebration Month.