Marckel Bonds’ petition about MLK day led to a meeting with University leadership
Published over winter break on change.org and spread over social media, Marckel Bonds’ petition to have classes cancelled at CNU on Martin Luther King Day in order to properly honor the meaning of the day, as of this publication, has received well over 500 signatures. The petition has also granted Bonds a meeting with the several members of CNU’s Board of Visitors, including President Trible, Provost Doughty, Dean Hughes and Vidal Dikerson.
The decision to make this petition came to Bonds for two reasons. The first was one of curiosity and confusion. Looking to other schools in the area, schools like VCU and ODU, they have Martin Luther King Day off. CNU, on the other hand does not.
“Why do other [schools] have the day off on this federal holiday, shouldn’t the workers have off– that was my first question,” Bonds said.
However, he was also inspired to make the petition due to his position as the Vice President of the Black Student Union on campus.
“I’ve heard some opinions and voices of minority students on campus so I felt I should take on the responsibility to try and incite some change and Martin Luther King Day happened to be one of the things that people were talking about and I thought that that was a great first step to make change on campus.”
For many this may seem like it is just a day, or an excuse to get out of class, but for Bonds, Martin Luther King Day means so much more.
For Bonds, the day shows the importance of education and perseverance.
“MLK day was founded 15 to 18 years after his death so it shows me that things take time. It also shows me how important it is to do research for yourself on different aspects of black history, especially as it is not as big in our academia, K-12 education,” Bonds said.
Bonds also thought that this day would like to be a nice starting point for change on CNU’s campus.
“It’s a good starting point because it is coming up, it’s a new year, everyone has a lot of reformative thoughts in the new year,” Bonds said.
More than this, he sees the students that want this change.
“My real purpose is to incite change on campus, because there are students here that do not like CNU. There students in the community that have a stigma against CNU so how we can change that and how we can make this a better place? Martin Luther King would say that you should live a life of meaning and you should affect the people around you and influence them.”
CNU responded in an email after the petition was sent out.
“Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is a freer and fairer America. He stirred our conscience and was a great man who should always be remembered and honored….Let us resolve to begin this new year with Dr. King’s commitment to leadership and service in our hearts and reflected in our actions.”
The office of Communications and Public Relations also responded providing their reasoning for the University staying open.
“Classes traditionally have been held on that day, as well as Labor Day, Veterans Day and what is now known as George Washington’s Birthday. That is so the University can comply with regulations concerning classroom hours and still maximize the time available during a semester without adding additional days either at the beginning or end of the semester or reducing the already scheduled holiday breaks. As the President stated in his message to students, staff and faculty, he is consulting with members of our community to discuss alternatives to make the University’s MLK Day observance more meaningful,” Jim Hanchett, Chief Communications Officer said.
And discuss alternatives, they did. Meeting with Bonds, they worked to create a more robust and educational week, something that Bonds expresses his gratitude, although he still said he is hoping to have classes at least partially cancelled so students can commit themselves to service on this day. Bonds explained that Martin Luther King Day is one of two days of service nationally recognized.
“It’s okay because, the respect and power that Trible has, just getting him to do this, is a step in the right direction.”
Bonds is still hopeful that in years to come this day will be spent in service and not necessarily in the classroom and that his act inpsires others.
“Don’t be scared. Have courage. The worst thing that happens is things stay like they are, and that probably won’t happen, and even then, if you speak up, someone else might feel inclined to speak up. Your voice is more powerful than you think.”