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UNC student groups celebrate King through various artistic mediums

The first annual “I Have a Dream UNC Exhibit” in the Student Union Art Gallery is a new photo project aiming to inspire people to achieve their own dreams. Founded by UNC junior Tafadzwa Matika, the event will focus on uniting the viewers through their sense of identity and purpose.

“We hope to create a safe space through which people can be themselves and create their own narratives,” Matika said. “It’s about helping each person in the community embrace that and to celebrate each other.”

The exhibit will also focus on overcoming stereotypes, which Matika believes is done through dreams.

“Just as MLK had a dream, everyone else has a dream,” he said.

The exhibit is put on with the help of the Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Department, which has been leading MLK celebration events since Sunday. Assistant director Josmell Perez said one of the most important parts of the exhibit, along with other celebration events this week, is having students help organize it.

“It’s about empowering them and making sure they know they have a voice,” he said.

“He was a Poem, He was a Song” will take place tonight and is an annual, performance art tribute to King. Starting at 7 p.m. in the Sonja Haynes Stone Center, the tribute features spoken word and music, including a performance from Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Carolyn Malachi.

Clarissa Goodlett, the program and public communications officer of the Stone Center, said choosing the groups to perform each year is based on those with an interest in activism.

“We reach out to organizations that we know do work in the spirit of Dr. King’s legacy,” she said.

UNC’s own Ebony Readers Onyx Theatre and Sacrificial Poets are also performing, and Goodlett said she believed both groups, along with Malachi, will help students experience the spirit of activism that MLK aimed to convey.

Senior biology major Aubree Broadwater is the committee co-chair of the MLK Celebration Committee that works year round to prepare events for this week. She said that each year, the committee decides on a theme based on one feature of MLK.

“He was such a dynamic figure, and there are so many aspects we can focus on,” Broadwater said.

This year’s theme is ‘Transcending the Legacy,’ and both the ‘I Have a Dream’ exhibit and ‘He was a Poem’ performance seek to convey MLK’s legacy to people at UNC.

“It’s a humbling experience as a coordinator to be able to plan and watch it all play out,” Broadwater said. “It’s all in honor of MLK because he’s one of the reasons I’m even at a university like this.”

“(His dream) goes beyond race,” Perez said. “It allows us to have a moment where we can be reflective and really have a sense of community and unity.”

Perez said although society has come a long way, it has not fully achieved King’s vision.

“Each year it is important to not only reflect what we’ve accomplished but to remind us that there is more to do,” he said.

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