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Chaparral 2017-2018: 26.5 50th Anniversary – King Assassination

50th Anniversary – King Assassination

by Robert Hill
Dean of Student Services Division


Wednesday, April 4th marked the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. King. I am very proud and honored to say that we, Glendale Community College, are going into our 4th year of honoring the spirit, legacy and life of this great man. In recognition of this significant time in American history, subsequently on April 5th, we hosted an event in the Multicultural & Community Engagement Center inviting the campus community to participate in an intimate conversation regarding race in America 50 years later and posed the following questions: (1) Were you alive and remember the day Dr. King was shot and killed? (2) Where were you? (3) How did you feel? (4) Did it have an impact on you? 

And that is exactly what transpired…an intimate conversation about race in America 50 years later after the assassination of Dr. King. The event started off with an excellent powerpoint presentation by Bill Sparks (adjunct faculty in Child Development). This was an excellent way to break the ice so to speak with a combination of chronological events in our society with personal accounts of Bill’s experience. As a result of Bill’s powerful chronology of the Civil Rights Movement, it informed an inclusive and safe environment for participation from all aspects of the campus community.

Dr. Michael Ritterbrown was not able to attend; however, he called me personally and shared a phenomenal personal testimony of his recollection of that tragic day and I was able to share it with the group. Dr. Culpepper was in attendance and gave a personal testimony of what Dr. King meant to him and how his contributions continue to this day. Saodat Azishnova (former CSEA President) was in attendance as well and shared a story about a woman working at the Lorraine Motel when Dr. King was shot and it was the first time she was able to give an interview about her bearing witness to the tragedy. This was a very powerful testimony.

The “spirit” of Dr. King was definitely in attendance at this event; it was well attended and representative of the entire campus community with students, staff, faculty and administration from all walks of life. The outcomes exceeded expectations and we more than accomplished what I intended with this event. I love our MLK Breakfast, and I think it is important; however, I do not just want to commemorate Dr. King with a breakfast, rather through events such as this that bring people together to discuss tough subjects in a civil manner. I think that continues to honor the work and legacy of Dr. King the person but also Dr. King’s principles, philosophies, and doctrine.

“I remember the day well. I was 4, and my mother and I had travelled to Wisconsin to visit relatives. We were in the relatives VW bus when the news came on the radio. All the adults got very quiet. I remember my mother crying. It was frightening for me because it was the first time I had an awareness of real evil in the world and of the senselessness of evil. We had talked about Dr. King in my family, and we had all been very hopeful about the direction the country seemed to be going in. His assassination, in that moment, seemed to wipe away that sense of hopefulness.”

Dr. Michael Ritterbrown

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