Silence Interrupted is an event sponsored by the 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration committee that occurred last night in Heritage Hall. This program opened the platform for students to discuss the topics of women and the LGBTQ+ people who supported King in his march for freedom and equality. Crowds of people filed in to the ten tables that were set out, plus two rows of chairs to fill in the back of the room. Black and gold balloons decorated Heritage Hall.

A slideshow of key activists who were significant to Dr. King Jr’s legacy were shown on the stage: Bayard Rustin, Dorothy Height, Fannie Lou Hamer, and of course Coretta Scott King. Compared to last year’s event, Silence Interrupted took a different twist on answering the given essay question. Five performances occurred throughout the night to express the importance of speaking up in a time of need. This included expressions through rap, song, spoken word, and dance.

The event started with a meal, and a discussion of the different questions presented at each table. Tom Houck, King’s former aid and activist, also made an appearance last night and will be speaking at tonight’s event.

 

After each performance and a trivia game to finish, the performance contest winners were announced. In third place was Silent Praise, the mining ministry that received a plaque and a $75 bookstore gift card. Second place was David Gaines, who performed spoken word and received a plaque and a $125 bookstore gift card. Last, Nadia received the first place prize of $250 to Target and a plaque.

Symone McCollum, Director of Campus Activities, says she wanted this year’s event to be different in terms of how students were able to express themselves on stage. When asked about her expectations of this event compared to the actual outcome she says, “I was nervous at first because these topics are hard to talk about, I didn’t think that many people would come because there are homophobic people for no reason… I don’t care if five people came, I just wanted people to come here and talk about these hard issues so that they can go and tell their friends about it.”

Cam Spiller, Executive Director of Campus activities and a senior majoring in economics, says he notices the difference between the turnout from last year to this year. When asked about his thoughts on the outcome Spiller says, “I’m proud of Simone and what she put together, we had like 100 people last time and this year people kept coming in. When you shoot for the moon you land among the stars, and Simone definitely landed among the stars.”

In addition to Silence Interrupted, there are many more events happening this week. The event with Tom Houck is tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Foster Auditorium. For the entire list of events click here.

[Editor’s Note: In an earlier version of this story, Symone McCollum, Director of Campus Activities’ name was misspelled. It has since been corrected. RISE Magazine regrets the error.]

Photo credits: Adriana Lacy

Nicole is a junior at Penn State and is a writer for the RISE Magazine. Her major is broadcast journalism. Aside from loving to write, she loves to dance. Contact Info: nicole@undergroundvoices.co