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College celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr.

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PABLO — Songs such as Bob Dylan’s “The Times They are a-Changin’” and Pete Seeger’s “We Shall Overcome” were playing as Salish Kootenai College students and staff gathered at Three Wolves Cafeteria on the Salish Kootenai College campus to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Jan. 21.

Jeff Bendremer, Ph.D., director of Tribal Historic Preservation Program, spoke about Dr. King. 

Bendremer said he first thought of King’s concept of a “beloved community.”

“Dr. King had a profound belief in the interrelatedness of all human beings. He was known to use the phase ‘the solidarity of the human family,’” Bendremer said.

“This idea of mutuality, interrelatedness, inescapably leads to other import ideas Dr. King pursued: social justice, economic equality and, of course, non-violence.”

Comparing SKC, Bendremer said members of more than 70 tribes and non-Native students all attend the college. 

Since he joined the faculty, “I have been impressed by the respect our students, faculty and administration show one another,” Bendremer said.

He asked the SKC community to remember Dr. King’s “beloved community.”

“It calls for action from each of us and holds the promise of creating a better world for us and our children.”

To further raise awareness about Dr. King and his life, students and staff held cakewalks, rewarding correct answers with a cake.

Nursing students Kodi Tall Bull and Niche Caye asked multiple-choice questions about Dr. King and his life, such as whether “Dr. King was really a minister?” and “Although he had the heart of a 60-year old, how old was Dr. King when he was assassinated?” 

To prepare for a campus-wide peace walk on Jan. 23, art instructor Cameron Decker invited staff and students “to really get in touch with our second grade selves” and use art supplies to design a sign to carry or a piece of art to share with students at the SKC Childcare Center. The peace walk will end at the daycare center and participants will sing a couple of songs with the children. 

Students came to the Martin Luther King celebration for many reason — free food, a professor bringing a class, to show some school spirit or to win a cake. But many came to pay tribute to King.

“(King) was a smart, wise man,” said Aron Yellow Owl, a heavy equipment student.   

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