The campus community at Iowa Central Community College came together Monday to celebrate their freedom and the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
More than 150 students and staff braved sleet and snowy conditions to gather at the Bioscience and Health Science Building to participate in a unity march around the campus. From their meeting point, the group proceeded around Triton Circle on the 20-minute walk to promote unity among themselves, the community and the world.
"We're here today to represent unity on our campus and to promote unity for throughout the community and world," said Kris Nerem-Lowery, chairman of the Iowa Central Diversity Committee, which helped organize the unity march.
Dajuan Copeland, a student at Iowa Central, carries a sign promoting unity during the march.
Members of the Iowa Central Jazz Band accompanied and set the tone for the march musically, continually playing "We Shall Overcome."
"That was very meaningful," said Nerem-Lowery.
Several students also carried handmade signs quoting King and promoting peace and unity around the world.
Student Dajuan Copeland carried a sign with a picture of the earth and two stick-figure people holding hands which stated "United We Stand."
Copeland said he had heard about the march a few days prior.
"I just heard about it a few days ago," he said. "I got a text message about it and thought it would be kind of fun. I was excited for it."
The track and field teams also used part of their practice time to participate in the march around campus.
Nerem-Lowery said several classes also observed the day and encouraged students to participate in the event.
The unity march was the first to be held on Iowa Central's campus, but not the first observation of Martin Luther King Day.
"We used to have a more formal program," said Nerem-Lowery. "This year we wanted to get the students to be active with it. What we are trying to do is get our students to become more actively involved in the history of our country."
Nerem-Lowery said she was impressed with the number of participants for a first-time event.
"I look forward to seeing how this can grow," she said. "I'd estimate that at least 150 participated today in the snow. If they were willing to come out in the snow, I hope it could be even bigger in the future."
Following the march, members of the Iowa Central Choir performed songs and a documentary video on the life of MLK was shown.
"Quoting King, 'we can not walk alone,'" said Nerem-Lowery. "'We need to pledge that we must always march ahead.'"