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Pa. students hold King vigil

January 20, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

MONT ALTO, Pa. - The candles flickered in the steady breeze then blew out, but the spirit of last night's vigil at Penn State Mont Alto to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn't be extinguished.

"I think Dr. King had a lot of good ideas," said Nikki Callahan of Philadelphia, a second-semester freshman at the university. "I'm here to honor the tradition of the awareness of ethnic backgrounds."

Shielding their candle flames, more than 25 students and faculty marched in pairs from the bridge at the campus entrance to the general studies building. There they settled in the auditorium to hear guest speaker Gillie Haynes Joseph, a poet and freelance journalist from Adelphi, Md.

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It was the college's third annual candlelight vigil.

"We're here to celebrate Martin Luther King and his legacy," said Ralph Barbour, the college's assistant director of multicultural affairs. "We're recognizing not just the messenger but the message."

Sweeping a glance around the gathering crowd, Barbour said he believes Dr. King would be proud to see the diversity of students at the college.

"But we still have a lot of work to do," he added.

Several students who participated in the vigil said they showed up as a group to celebrate the meaning of the holiday. Penn State freshman Andrew Weils of Toms River, N.J., said he came to "promote campus unity."

Once inside, the poet Haynes Joseph made her way to the stage from the back of the auditorium passionately reciting a poem she wrote called, "Moving on in spirit, moving on in time.''

The poet read several of her works intermingled with excerpts from her personal life and experiences as a wife, mother and writer. Many of Haynes Joseph's poems are written about the journey of "getting from one spot to another," she said.

A collection of her work is dedicated to King. She shared one with the audience that reads like a letter to him. Haynes Joseph said young people can be encouraged by King and told the group that they have to go after the things they want in life.

"I think Dr. King left us with a great legacy when he said, `I have a dream,'" she said.

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