This year's San Diego State University Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon, held Jan. 19, began with a story of incarceration.
Guest speaker, Congressman Bob Filner (D-Calif.), also a former history professor at SDSU, recounted his experiences with King and his participation in the Freedom Rides of 1961.
Risking it all
"I didn't realize what I was getting myself into until they asked us to sign our last wills and testaments before we got on the bus," Filner said. "And nobody knew at that time, at that moment, where we would end up, where we would be arrested, what state we would be in.
"We ended up in Jackson, Miss., where the authorities decided to arrest us immediately once we broke the law rather than confront an incredible mob... Dr. King said to those who were arrested to stay in jail as long as possible."
While he could have posted bail, Filner chose to stay jailed for two months. His case was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Remembering King's legacy
An estimated 250 students, faculty, staff and community members attended the annual luncheon, held in the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center this year due to construction of Aztec Student Union.
LaShae Collins (left) and Shirley Weber (Photo by Glenn Robertson)
The event also honors an "unsung hero," someone who is dedicated to serving students, faculty and staff, and does not receive recognition for their work, said Shirley Weber, event emcee and chair of the Department of Africana Studies.
This year's Unsung Hero Award went to LaShae Collins, administrative coordinator for the Department of Africana Studies, and a member of the luncheon's organizing committee.
In announcing the award, Weber described the pleasure she took in keeping it a secret from Collins, from lying about not choosing an awardee this year to omitting her name from the program.
"I'm in total shock," Collins said. "I'm not much for words, but thank you very, very much for this award. It's an honor and a pleasure to be able to put on these luncheons ... everything, every year, it's a passion of mine. I enjoy it."
About the event
Sponsors of this year's event include:
The luncheon is organized by the SDSU Department of Africana Studies. For more information about the department, visit the website.