Virginia State University honors Martin Luther King Jr. with socially distanced discussion

Chesterfield County

Petersburg, Va. (WRIC) — The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop Virginia State University from honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The university partnered with Chesterfield County to livestream a discussion about Dr. King’s life and legacy Monday.

“We can’t rest all on Dr. King’s legacy, but what’s next? And how do we stand on his shoulders to move our community and our society forward?,” said Dr. Cheryl Mango, an assistant professor of history at VSU and one of the panelists at the event.

A panel of professors, activists and Chesterfield County leaders discussed how to move forward toward social justice.

Dr. Mango said they talked about Dr. King’s vision while reflecting on last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.

“Talking about him within the context of today’s tragedies and situations, and even triumphs,” Mango said.

The panelists also discussed tangible ways in which our society can move toward change.

“Policy, how public policy could be changed, the role that HBCUs play, the role that history plays,” Dr. Mango told 8News.

Despite the pandemic, the discussion took place in person and was live-streamed for the community to see, according to VSU President Dr. Makola Abdullah.

“I thought it was wonderful the way we were able to set it up here in the Multi-Purpose Center to provide the area to distance, to social distance,” Dr. Abdullah said.

Some students, like Student Government Association President Kameron Gray, were even able to attend in person.

“I want to hear what the different people from the community have to say and the importance of the celebration of Martin Luther King,” Gray told 8News before the panel began.

Gray also added that some VSU students spent the morning honoring Dr. King in other ways too. He said a group of students built new benches for Ettrick Park and VSU’s campus in celebration of Dr. King.

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