NEWBERRY — Newberry College students and community members gathered together Monday night for a candlelight vigil, honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“I noticed there was a gap of events for Martin Luther King Day and really wanted to do something for this year and years to come,” said Angelo Geter, coordinator of student engagement and leadership at Newberry College.
The vigil began in Wiles Chapel on the college’s campus, followed by a candlelit service in front of Holland Hall. Travis Reeder was the speaker for the event.
Reeder was born in 1965 and graduated from Newberry High School. He attended S.C. State College where he earned a degree in business administration in 1988. Reeder has been employed by the School District of Newberry County since 1995, currently serving as a case manager.
In 2001, Reeder started the MLK March, which is held every year on MLK day.
“I used to ride to the program with my parents every year in Columbia,” Reeder said. “It was time for one to be held here in Newberry.”
“Martin Luther King was a leader, a husband, a father, a preacher, and led many boycotts throughout the nation,” Reeder told community members. “He was a man of God and guided by a book that taught him and told him there was a problem with our nation. That book was the Bible.”
Reeder said MLK believed everyone was to be treated equally and that he felt it was unfair to treat people as if they were nobody.
“He was shot and killed by a man who didn’t know who he really was,” Reeder said.
The lesson Reeder tried to convey from the words of Martin Luther King Jr. was that if our lives didn’t stand for something, they were not really worth living.
“Have we ourselves honored the dream of Martin Luther King?” Reeder asked. “We should ask ourselves that every day.”
Reeder expressed Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision that everyone should have the same opportunities, and that there at Newberry College, each student had an equal opportunity for their education.
“In the world, we all have the same opportunities to be successful,” Reeder said. “You have to take the opportunities you have now because no one is promised tomorrow.”
For many years Reeder has been involved in a number of different organizations which includes president of the Newberry Chapter of the NAACP, Past Master of Meridian Lodge #9, secretary of The Drayton Street Villages, a member of the Southern Gents, secretary and treasurer of the Sons of Allen, and a part of many other organizations and social clubs.
Following Reeder’s speech, Newberry College’s Metoka Galada sang songs for the group before everyone was invited to light a candle outside in memory of MLK.
“I hope we do this every year,” Geter said. “This campus should be full of things for Martin Luther King Day.”
Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108.