Armstrong Celebrates Diversity

(Feb. 8, 2013) On a bright, brisk morning in January, 130 members of the Armstrong community joined the 34th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade in downtown historic Savannah with record-setting participation. The Armstrong float, complete with Captain George, the university's pirate mascot, and members of the Student Government Association, sailed through the parade flanked by Armstrong students, faculty, staff, and alumni, all marching under the unified theme of service—in honor of service to others and in honor of all those from the Armstrong community who have served.

Participation wasn't limited to the Armstrong section of the parade. The Armstrong Collegiate 100 Chapter walked with 100 Black Men of Savannah, and students from Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. joined their respective graduate sponsoring chapters.

“Having the opportunity to march with the future heroes of our country and letting them know that we are honored to have them serve was amazing,” said Delicia Ray, an early childhood education major. “As a student body, we marched together in unity in support of each other and had a great time showing Savannah how diverse and loving we are as a university. I am proud to say that it was a wonderful day to see how Dr. King's dream is truly alive.”

Many members of Armstrong's Latino community joined the parade effort as well.

“It is good for the Savannah community, our state, and this country to see that we, Black and Latinos, care for each other, that we are united,” said Veronikha Salazar, Hispanic outreach and retention coordinator with Armstrong's First Year Experience program. “Participation in Black History Month events and the Martin Luther King Jr. parade are just small examples of what we can do if we join forces together. If we want the community to hear us, then we have to work together, and our voices will be louder and stronger.

“I was proud to see the eclectic and large Armstrong representation at the parade,” added Brandon Quillian, Armstrong chemistry professor and Notable Alumnus who joined the effort. “It was proof that the dream is becoming reality.”

The parade kicked off Armstrong's dynamic Black History Month programming organized by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, along with help from the student NAACP Chapter, the African/Caribbean Students Organization, and the Campus Union Board among other on-campus organizations. The programming includes lectures and panel discussions on a range of topics, from perceptions of skin color and African religious history to cultural connections. Performances from celebrity figures like Nelly's Echo from “The Voice” and Armstrong's own talent round out the programming.

2013 Black History Month will culminate in the inaugural Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner. The start of a new tradition, the dinner will celebrate those in the Armstrong community who have been instrumental agents of change. The dinner will also feature Armstrong's first African-American graduate and former City of Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson as the keynote speaker. Johnson's address coincides with the 50th anniversary year of his graduation, a fitting milestone for this significant occasion.