On Thursday, January 15, 2015, BYU Law’s Black Law Student Association (BLSA) hosted an event to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The student organization invited students and faculty to share their feelings and experiences regarding the impact of the Nobel Prize winning Dr. King.
Following introductory comments, BLSA showed a short film highlighting the famous, “I Have a Dream,” speech. Professor Carl Hernandez shared his appreciation for the Civil Rights Acts, as well as his appreciation for members of his family who were pioneers for civil rights in the United States.
Professor Hernandez placed objects in view of those in attendance: an orange, a kiwi, a lemon, a can of olives, and a jar of chalk. He spoke of his grandfather who was a migrant worker in the fields of California as well as the other workers who continue to toil in similar jobs. The objects were reminders of his grandfather’s work picking fruit and writing on the crates in chalk. He also described how children of Mexican heritage were turned away from public schools before Congress took action. Hernandez has not forgotten the impact of civil rights fighters like Cesar Chavez, Dr. King, and his own forefathers.
Quoting Cesar Chavez, Professor Hernandez said, “The end of all education should surely be service to others.” Hernandez continued, “It is not enough to teach our young people to be successful so they can realize their ambitions, so they can earn good livings, so they can accumulate the material things that this society bestows. Those are worthwhile goals. But it is not enough to progress as individuals while our friends and neighbors are left behind.”
Professor Kif Augustine-Adams spoke on the importance of education. “Law can be a tool for change, but law also isn’t the complete answer,” she said. “By focusing in on education specifically, we can provide and help others gain the tools that they need to change their own lives.” Many students participated when she invited people in the audience to share their experiences and stories with civil rights.