Students, speaker explore MLK legacy


Nationally known speaker Rasheed Ali Cromwell shared his thoughts on living Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy in a Jan. 17 visit to Detroit Mercy.

Cromwell asked students how King’s beliefs differed from those of Malcolm X, and then delivered a talk about perceptions.

He invited audience members to gather in a circle and discuss what they thought of King.

“When I think about King, I think about a lot of the non-violence movement,” said Jhayla Mosley. “It was really a catalyst for the other movements. For example, the Black Power movement and also the Black Lives movement.”

Mosley felt the Civil Rights Movement was more consistent and unified. Today, it takes a video to be posted on social media for people to want to be involved, she said.

Detroit Mercy administrator Dorothy Stewart noted that life has improved for most African Americans since King’s day.

Cromwell said there were pros and cons about both the modern-day movement and the Civil Rights Movement.

Student Deja Lee shared her frustrations about police brutality.

She asked how it was possible for people with less power to hold those above the law accountable.

“Sometimes the cops get to walk away for free or they just get suspended,” said Lee. “It’s frustrating for people who are part of Black Lives Matter or any movement who continues to get shut down. To see on social media that they did nothing wrong, they had no weapon, but they still get shot multiple times – that makes zero amount of no sense.”

One attendee said there is a need for strong leaders for teenagers and kids.

She asked who young kids are going to look up to.

Rasheed Ali Cromwell told her she had answered her own question.

“Hold up your smart phone and go into the mirror app. Look at it. It’s you,” he said.

He explained that each and every person can be “that leader.”

He asked those present what they were going to do in Detroit that would make people say, “Hey, we need to duplicate what you’re doing.”

Afterward, students said they enjoyed Cromwell’s talk and the discussion.

The Rev. Tim Hipskind said that he enjoyed the event and wished more students could have witnessed the discussion.

This is Cromwell’s tenth year as a full-time speaker. He is an attorney and previously worked at a large law firm in Washington, D.C.

Cromwell told The Varsity News he loves doing what he does, noting he has a passion for education and for empowering people.

Regarding the students’ concerns, Cromwell said a lot needs to be done.

“This event was very inspiring and encouraging because it shows me that your generation is passionate and caring,” he said. “They want to make a difference. They just need to know how.”