The president of Mississippi Valley State University challenged members of the Mississippi State and Starkville community to choose wisely between “chaos and community” in their daily lives and actions.
William B. Bynum Jr., a veteran higher education professional who has served as MVSU president since 2013, served as keynote speaker Monday for Mississippi State’s 21st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity Breakfast.
Bynum’s challenge was taken from King’s prophetic 1967 book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” In that writing, King observed: “America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most indispensable element of greatness — justice.”
Bynum said: “Dr. King challenged us to come together to be better citizens, better neighbors, better friends, and better human beings. Never let the flame of hope go out in your own life. Choose community over chaos.”
MSU President Mark E. Keenum also gave remarks citing the importance of the annual recognition of King’s contributions.
“This marks my seventh opportunity to take part in this very meaningful event in the life of this university and this community,” Keenum said. “I’m pleased at the role that MSU plays in championing diversity and inclusion. We remain the most diverse institution in the Southeastern Conference and the most diverse original land grant university with over 4,000 African-American students enrolled. We are glad you are joining us to commemorate the historic contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and it is appropriate that we assemble on the university campus, for he was an ardent proponent of education. ”
An audience of more than 400 attended the free event in the Colvard Student Union’s Bill Foster Ballroom. Held for 21 years, the breakfast is jointly sponsored by the City of Starkville and the university.
During the program, three high school students were honored as statewide winners in the 2015 MLK Writing Contest sponsored by MSU’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion.
Jasmine Carter, a senior at Starkville High School, took first-place honors, while the second place winner was Rachel Bobo, a senior at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus. Mya Brown took third place honors. All three essayists received monetary awards for their essays on the civil rights leader’s legacy.
At the conclusion of Monday morning’s program, the university’s Maroon Volunteer Center kicked off the annual MLK Jr. Day of Service. Participants are volunteering for various community service projects to benefit West Oktibbeha Elementary School in Sturgis and Oktoc Animal Rescue Inc. Participants also will serve Tuesday [the 20th] to assist with the Starkville Church of God’s food pantry distribution.
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