MLK Beneath the Surface

Donovan Leonard, a fourth year student at CSULA at the King You Didn't Know event. Photo by Brian Delgado

Joshua Letona, Intern Reporter

Cal State LA presented Martin Luther King Jr.: The King You Didn’t Know, exploring MLK beyond his notable work that has been considered for decades.

The event was hosted by the program coordinator, Donovan Saddler, guiding the audience through open discussions alongside his two panelists, Dr. Fred King and Jodi Scofield.

The panelists wanted the audience to learn more about MLK–a figure many believe they know so well. Dr. Fred King, one of the panelists, stated that he wanted the presentation, “to help our scholars think beyond what many come to university thinking, which is primarily ‘I Have a Dream’.”

The presentation began with a brief overview of MLK’s most prominent acts: the walk on Selma, his speech, and his fight for civil rights.

Students were then presented with the life and ideals of MLK not discussed in history books.
Saddler highlighted events that revealed the hardships King faced leading up to and after his iconic speech. These included: attempting suicide twice as a child and growing up in an abusive household while facing racial discrimination.

Despite these obstacles, King skipped high school, earned his PhD, and learned the teachings of Gandhi in India by age 30. This took Cal State LA student, Ingrid Carrasco, by surprise.

“I think that’s really crazy how he didn’t give up and he still fought for people’s rights,” said Carrasco.

Some students were surprised when it was revealed that King renounced his speech because his “dream” became a nightmare. Student Andrea Resendiz felt broken-hearted for the doctor.

“He admitted to everything that was a failure, that he was upset about after that,” said Resendiz.

Further discussions into MLK’s speeches allowed the audience to draw parallels between how society functions then and now. Many recognized how history may be repeating itself. Some students felt they had a better understanding of MLK’s life and the importance of his role in the civil rights movement.

“It really affected me for what he did to the community. He had a voice and he didn’t let anyone intimidate him,” said University student Katy Morales.