MOORHEAD — Members of the Concordia College choir helped provide the soundtrack for kicking off a day full of remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who died over 50 years ago.

The fight for civil rights Dr. King had back then continues today, as people continue to march and protest against racial injustice.

"We're in it for real, we're in these trenches for real," said Jason Sole, who is a professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, and whom Concordia College invited to speak Monday, Jan. 18. "We know our lives can end any day. I'm a target."

Activists like Sole said cases like George Floyd's, Tamir Rice's and Jacob Blake's only amplify the conversation surrounding civil rights that Dr. King started back in the 1960s.

Concordia student Tyrell Setness was also one of many who shared their stories of growing up Black.

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"I'm tired that over 400 years, I, as a Black man, am terrified of seeing people that are hired to protect me," he said. "So, I reflect on those throughout history who are many and forgotten."

This display, part of Concordia College's "Tunnel of Oppression," show those who have died at the hands of police brutality. Those who put the display together want to stress this isn't a way to insinuate all police are bad. Submitted photo
This display, part of Concordia College's "Tunnel of Oppression," show those who have died at the hands of police brutality. Those who put the display together want to stress this isn't a way to insinuate all police are bad. Submitted photo

As colleges throughout the region read through Dr. King's speeches, and brought awareness to police brutality through walking tours, organizers of these events said there's always some pushback.

"Messages of, 'This is not real information,' or that this isn't a real issue or whatever, those messages are harmful," said Madison Bogart, who's part of Concordia's diversity and inclusion commission.

Despite those messages, activists say they only serve to inspire them to keep the fire going until there's change, just like Dr. King did.

"(Dr. King) made the ultimate sacrifice, so that we could see a better day," Sole said. "Why would I let him down?"

Along with today's events around campuses, Concordia, the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University are encouraging students to volunteer in the community throughout the week to honor Dr. King's legacy.