The 38th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet took place Saturday, Jan. 19, in the State Room at OSU Institute of Technology. This was the third consecutive year OSUIT has had the honor to host the banquet.
The banquet, which was open to the public, was established to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to raise scholarship funds for local students within the Okmulgee County area.
This year’s theme “All Life Is Interrelated” is exactly what this event is all about, bringing people together. With over 120 attendees this year, it accomplished just that.
“Once again, OSUIT was proud to be the site chosen by the Okmulgee County Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Committee for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet,” said Dr. Bill Path, president of OSUIT. “We welcome this esteemed group of visitors and community leaders to campus and support their efforts to share the message that all lives are interrelated. I hope we can all come to understand that though our community is diversified, we can still be unified.”
Since 1980, the Okmulgee County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee has awarded over $30,000 to extraordinary students who have made a personal commitment to continue their education to create a stronger and secure future for themselves and Okmulgee County.
In addition to the funds raised for local students, this event also helps to raise scholarship funds for the School of Culinary Arts.
“One of the biggest rewards for OSUIT is the scholarship money from the event that goes directly into the Jennifer Booker scholarship fund,” said Chef Aaron Ware, Culinary Arts instructor. “This has awarded three students $500 scholarships.”
Aside from the scholarship money, Ware sees this event as a great opportunity to engage with the community. “It gives our department and our students the chance to work with people from the community and understand the history of Okmulgee.”
Culinary Arts students prepared and served Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite foods for this year’s meal. The menu included southern fried chicken, collard greens, candied sweet potatoes and pecan pie.
Coupled with the meal was guest speaker, Torrel Miles, who exemplifies overcoming obstacles and differences. Miles, an Okmulgee native, is a board member of Ability Resources, Inc., a non-profit with a mission of helping individuals, of all ages and backgrounds, with disabilities attain and maintain personal independence. Through his work with Ability Resources, he has earned recognition at Leadership Tulsa’s Paragon Awards and was given the Rising Star Award, which honors an individual under 40 who demonstrates outstanding leadership. He also serves as a member of the Oklahoma Statewide Independent Living Council, who work with regional independent living centers and other entities to promote the implementation of the state plan for independent living.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other."
“When I think of this quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, this event allows a person the opportunity to communicate and pull fears and stereotypes to the side and gain a deeper understanding that we are interrelated,” said Nate Todd, director of Prospective Student Services at OSUIT.