The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday March 30th

Civil rights leader honored via poetry, song

Performances honor past, look ahead

Students, teachers and community leaders, armed with poetry, music and passion, gathered Tuesday night to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The Sonya Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History hosted "He Was A Poem," an exhibition of poetry inspired by the late civil rights leader. The event featured a diverse selection of performances, ranging from traditional religious storytelling and gospel singing to contemporary looks at King. Among the contemporary readings was "Lil' Kings" by Frank X. Walker, which was performed by UNC sophomore Donovan Livingston. The piece posed the question of how King would be perceived if he took up a modern, "street" persona. Livingston painted a picture for the audience of a King "Listenin' to Dr. Dre/ Wu-Tang/ And the Notorious B.I.G. "Could he still be king?" The annual event is in its third year, and organizer Raquel Von Cogell said it was a great success - about 80 people attended. "I think it went fabulously," she said. "I was really pleased with everyone's performance." Cogell, the Stone Center librarian, fostered connection between her love of the written and spoken word and the legacy of King. "The program honors Dr. King through poetry," she said. "It really speaks to everyone." Helping to honor and illustrate the life and death of King was Durham poet Kim Arrington. Arrington grew up watching the 1978 movie "King," which led her to draw comparisons between its subject and her father. "He was always larger than life," she said of King. "I was always attracted to his desire to do things in a different way." While honoring the legacy of King is very important, Arrington said this event was especially important because it embraces a new kind of leader. "Artists are the new leadership," she said, citing that they have more work ahead of them. "I believe there's still much we have to learn about being with each other in our community." Arrington, a professional artist, said she really enjoyed seeing the other performances. "I believe everyone is a poet, everyone is a performer," she said. "It's natural - we all have something that we want to say that's important for us to tell." UNC sophomore Aisha Forte, who attended the event, is appreciative of the activities on campus to commemorate King. "I know a lot of people are just glad to get out of school," she said. "I'm also glad that we actually do things to celebrate his legacy, to recognize what he's done for us as individuals, as a campus and as a country." Contact the Arts Editor at


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