MLK Jr. 2014 in Muncie Highlights Jobs, Education, Voter Rights

Behind Alpha Phi Alpha President Troy McElvaney marches a group of students, professors and Multicultural Center participants marching together in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Daylong events point to youth, future of social justice for all 

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) -  Troy McElvaney led the march down McKinley Avenue with a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recognizing the fight against injustice, and poverty.

And McElvaney, president of Alpha Phi Alpha, has carried own some of King's causes light getting students registered to vote and participation in the process called democracy.

"Some people are afraid to vote," said McElvaney, referring to how some students think they have to declare a partisan preference.

The fraternity ran a voter registration effort recent and got more than 50 people registered, showing many youth don't bother to vote.

After the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the federal voter's rights act that was critical to King's march on Washington D.C., McElvaney and his fellow fraternity members know they have to fight to protect their rights and privileges under the law.

The march involving community leaders like Bishop Royce Mitchell and Ball State professor George Wolfe, had nearly 100 participants and was among daylong events celebrating MLK and his legacy.

More than 200 gathered for the yearly MKL Jr. community breakfast recognizing student achievement and efforts to help the community overcome poverty and illiteracy.

Mayor Dennis Tyler encouraged the group who gathered at Ball State to go out and help others as King did to change history by opposing the Vietnam War, fighting for voter rights and equal protection.

 Jo Ann Gora, president of Ball State, also talked about the university's steps to attract a more diverse student body through international programs and encouraging underprivileged  students to attend.

 Ball State has done much to help youth in need of more education and economy. After school programs at Longfellow Elementary are provided by Ball State students who also built an outdoor living exhibit at the local Headstart School. Interior design was was done by students at the popular Cornerstone Center for the Arts.

Ermalene Faulkner, chief academic officer for Muncie Community Schools, talked about the heart and soul of the public school system that has seen conflict over high school consolidation and declining money for transportation.

More than 70 percent of Muncie school students live in poverty, given the number of youth on free and reduced lunches.

Faulkner said nearly 500 people were working on the school consolidation and the schools were working through creating a transportation that would ensure a safe way to go to school.

Tanya Bell, president of CEO of Indiana Black Expo, talked about a report on black youth, reflecting the need for more education and employment. Many youth have trouble finding work in a stagnant economy and others need extra help with school.

Bell was glad to see a job fair Monday for youth besides other programs to provide more skills to gain employment. Ball State has another job fair for college students on Feb. 12.

Nationally, President Barack Obama called again for raising the federal minimum wage and taking other steps to encourage more hiring in the public and private sectors.

Locally, the Muncie Boys and Girls Club had daylong activities for students who had MLK Day off.

From left to right, Keanna Peppers, Maya Woods, Steven Williams and Keirstyn Williams stand after the MLK Day march.

Roughly 50 students, professors and residents gathered outside the Multicultural Center on Monday after marching McKinley Ave in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.


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