As part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend celebration, on Saturday, Jan. 15, students from the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of Community Affairs spent the night with youth from the Boys and Girls Club and the Winter Park Community Center’s teen program. About 40 elementary, middle, and high school students experienced Youth Night at Rollins.
The evening began with the students watching an hour long segment of the 14-hour documentary Eyes on the Prize about the African-American Civil Rights Movement. They watched the segment “No Easy Walk,” which focused on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work from Albany, Georgia to the March on Washington.
The students then broke into seven small groups to discuss what they watched. To help spark the discussion, Community and Office Coordinator in the Office of Community Engagement Suzy Plott reminded us all that “a lot of us get excited that we have no school or no work [on Monday], but a lot of us don’t remember why.”
The discussion grew from civil rights to problems with racism that still exist. One student, Keyarri, stated, “there is always that pressure to make me quit because of the color of my skin… it’s just there.” Many students went on to talk about day-to-day responses they see in classrooms about skin color. Elĳah McRae, a high school student, argued that “racism is now played with. Back then it was a big problem, but now people use it in jokes. It is starting to be too much.”
The night continued with the students staying in their small groups for a full tour of Rollins’ campus. The students found the campus “beautiful” and “really cool.” The architecture of the buildings and the small classes also impressed them.
A member of the Office of Multicultural Affairs also accompanied each group to provide the students with special facts about the multiculturalism of the campus, including the time when Maya Angelou visited Rollins and all the international organizations on campus.
Afterward, the students were provided with a dinner in the Galloway Room. Meredith Hein, assistant director of the Office of Community Engagement, began a conversation about changing the world, focusing on the quote by Mohandas Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
The night ended with a dance in Dave’s Down Under, which included board games and a dance-off competition.