A Purdue student said that the Martin Luther King Jr. vigil almost felt like what the historical March on Washington in 1963 must have been like.
Students gathered at the Black Cultural Center on Thursday night to light candles and march to Loeb Playhouse in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The vigil was sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, of which King became a brother in 1952. A senior in the College of Engineering and brother of Alpha Phi Alpha, David Rankine, remembered King’s impact.
“One man can change the course of history, if dedicated enough,” Rankine said. “All the things he fought for, the nonviolence which he carried on from Ghandi and that ideology really resonated with the American people and still continues to be an inspiration to who we can be.”
The vigil opened with the singing of “We Shall Overcome” and a moment of silence for King. From there, about 40 to 50 students were escorted by police as they sang “Negro spirituals” all the way to the Stewart Center.
Jordan Woodard, a junior in the Krannert School of Management, attended the vigil to pay homage to King.
“It’s really just an opportunity for students to reflect on the struggles that were carried out not very long ago,” Woodard said. “It’s a way for us to also reflect on the vision and values of a man who is admired by millions of people, if not billions of people across the world today.”
Woodard said it is important to recognize people who strive to better the entire world, not just their own race.
“Diversity isn’t something that’s just supposed to benefit blacks or other minorities,” Woodard said. “It’s supposed to better entire communities by exposing people to different ways of thinking, different cultures, different traditions and allows different types of relationships to be established between people.”
This was the second year Alpha Phi Alpha sponsored a vigil for King and Rankine hopes it will continue to grow and impact students at Purdue.
“To carry out this tradition, it’s important not only for Purdue students and African Americans but it’s also just for people in general,” Rankine said. “(Martin Luther King Jr.) changed not only the course of American history but history in itself and he kind of embodied the three pillars of American society – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He lived and died for a cause that was greater than his own.”