by Emily Prieto and Adam Lopez
When we remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one aspect that stands out is the strength to speak out against injustices which too often occur in the world.
Although not recognized as a national holiday with the ability to shut down banks, all schools or post offices, MLK Day was recognized by some of the students that are members of two student groups supported by the Latino Resource Center: Dream Action NIU and DeKalb High School’s (DHS) Vanguardia Afirmativa de Latinos Unidos (V.A.L.U.).
Students collectively participated Jan. 21 in a mass demonstration on a bitter cold Chicago Monday jn the Richard J. Daley Center. The group’s primary motivation to climb out of bed on a subzero “free” school day was to collectively demand a moratorium on deportations. Not only would the moratorium freeze deportation processes, it would also place an immediate halt to the separation of families; 1,100 per day to be exact.
Both student groups are led by interns who work at the Latino Resource Center. For example, Dream Action NIU is led by Ivonne Uquillas, who is deeply committed to advocacy for the undocumented population of the DeKalb “communiversity.”
Following the demonstration at the Daley Center, V.A.L.U. and Dream Action NIU students defeated the cold by participating in a lecture presentation given by Sean Arce (co-founder of the banned Tucson Arizona Mexican American Studies) and Jose Gonzalez (ex-MAS teacher) at DePaul University later that night. It was a fitting way to end MLK Day because both Arce and Gonzalez shared precious knowledge and pushed concepts of radical self love in order to deal with the historical trauma that colonized people have to endure.
This is why this year’s celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was so influential to the V.A.L.U. and Dream Action NIU students. They succeeded in moving parallel to Dr. King’s philosophy of liberation education, advocacy, peace and social justice for all.
In conclusion, it was due to this mindset that Dream Action NIU and V.A.L.U. high school students literally jumped up and down to prevent their toes from turning to ice as the marched the streets of Chicago demanding a stop to the separation of families by way of a moratorium on deportations.
The Voices section of NIU Today features opinions and perspectives from across campus. Emily Prieto is director of the NIU Latino Resources Center, where Adam Lopez is an intern.