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OU students hold prayer walk for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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MLK Day Walk

Students sing the hymn "Total Praise" in front of the Bizzell Memorial Library on Jan. 18. Black Campus Ministries hosted a prayer walk around the South Oval in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

OU’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship gathered Monday afternoon to hold a Martin Luther King Jr. Day prayer walk to honor the civil rights icon.

Approximately 50 students and ministry leaders gathered together at 4 p.m. Monday, sharing prayers, hymns and the words of King before setting out on a walk around the South Oval. Lined up in two long columns, they continued in a nearly silent procession, with several students reading aloud the prayer cards handed out earlier. 

When the group reached their starting point, they gathered together to speak their final prayers, songs and quotes before bringing the walk to an end.

InterVarsity and its Black Campus Ministries have held MLK Day celebrations before, showcasing guest speakers and choirs, but this is their first prayer walk.

InterVarsity director Chris Goree said this year’s walk paid tribute to the marches African-Americans have held across the country, as well as King’s famous March on Washington in 1963. This tribute, as well as the group’s own racial diversity, added something unique to the walk, Goree said. 

“I think it’s a beautiful reflection of our nation as a whole, and seeing them united together for one cause, to celebrate the life of Dr. King, is a special event,” Goree said.

This year’s celebration also acted as a reminder of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon incident last year and the protests, panels and discussions that came in its wake. Along with signs about Black Campus Ministries, students walked with a sign holding photos of the Unheard marches, press conferences and prayer circles surrounding OU President David Boren’s “Real Sooners are not racist” statement.

Nearly a year later, InterVarsity members said MLK Day acts as a time to remember how far our campus and nation has come in terms of racial solidarity and understanding.

“I think (the walk) is a really great opportunity, especially in light of events that have happened, not just on this campus but on campuses worldwide,” Amy King, a freshman InterVarsity member, said. “There’s a lot of tension. There’s a lot pain. There’s a lot of left behind hurt, and so we want to come together as a community to pray and to lift each other up.”

Sophomore Black Campus Ministries leader Myria Davis said she hoped the walk reinvigorated discussions about race and relationships and let students know that InterVarsity cared and was there for students who felt alone in the fight. Thinking back on King’s words, she said she wanted to carry out his lessons today.

“Even though your enemies are your enemies, and they’re going to hate you for whatever, you got to love them because love conquers all," Davis said. "And that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to fight with love."

Black Campus Ministries is planning several events for Black History Month, including a showing of the movie “War Room,” Bible studies and discussion panels. 

Amber Friend is a print journalism junior who works as a news reporter for the OU Daily, at which she has also been a copy editor.

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