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UNG observes MLK's legacy

January 6, 2020

Among many events planned to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., students will address current social justice issues as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Contests set for Jan. 22 on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Gainesville Campus and Jan. 29 on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

Participants will answer two questions:

  • What would Dr. King see as the biggest social justice issue today?
  • How can society address it?

Dr. Robert Robinson, director of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA), said the contests serve as a forum for some students' initial public speaking experiences.

"We want to do things to not just expose students to social justice issues. We want them to be engaged," Robinson said. "They get a chance to express what they feel are some of the important social justice issues, which is one of the first steps in democracy."

Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Contests

Gainesville Campus

When: Noon Jan. 22

Where: Robinson Ballroom, Student Center

Dahlonega Campus

When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 29

Where: Hoag Great Room

Nathalia Ingles, a sophomore from Buford, Georgia, pursuing a degree in communications with a public relations concentration, will discuss the misrepresentation of people of color in media.

"People judge you because of the color of your skin," Ingles said. "This is a great experience because I'm not only representing my family and friends. I'm representing people who can't find a place to fit in. We should embrace our heritage and our culture."

Jennifer Ramsay, a sophomore from Lawrenceville, Georgia, pursuing a degree in communications with a multimedia journalism concentration, will talk about prejudice in already marginalized groups, such as racism among the LGBTQ community and colorism among black people.

"When we turn on each other, it doesn't help anything," Ramsay said. "We're slowing down our progress by doing that."

Matthew Penado, a freshman from Gainesville, Georgia, pursuing an associate degree on the art pathway, will discuss the wealth gap between minorities and non-minorities and how it affects other social justice issues.

"In order for anything to change, you first have to start talking about it," Penado said. "It's a way to learn from someone else's perspective and get a better, well-rounded view of the world."

Simeon Salia, a junior pursuing a dual degree in physics and engineering with a computer science minor, will talk about the division he said is hurting the country.

"It's become a lot of us and them groups, particularly when it comes to political parties," Salia said. "It's an issue that impedes a lot of work from getting done, especially in Congress and in other areas socially."

Wade Manora Jr., assistant director of MSA, is eager to see the students make their speeches.

"It is my hope that everyone that hears the words of our oratorical participants will go out, find and act on an inequality in their surrounding community," Manora said.

In addition to the oratorical contests, UNG is holding a pair of MLK service projects: a campus beautification project Jan. 17 on the Dahlonega Campus and, on Jan. 20, assistance for the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation in Watkinsville in setting up the organization's annual thrift sale.

Other events scheduled on the Dahlonega Campus include:

  • Jan. 21: "MLK Unity Day: Sounds, Poetry, and Light" event featuring music, poetry and candle vigil, Hoag ABC Rooms, 11 a.m. to noon
  • Jan. 23: "Jeopardy: MLK Trivia," Hoag Food Court, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 27: "Student Debate: Where Would Dr. King Sit?" Dialogue on where Dr. King would sit from an ideological perspective. Chestatee Starbucks Lounge, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

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