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For UND student, King's speech resonates still

UND master's student Lucky Malenga said a march honoring Martin Luther King Jr. earlier this year opened his eyes to King's legacy here. Malenga, 26, an international student from West Africa, participated in Grand Forks' first communitywide even...

Lucky Malenga

UND master's student Lucky Malenga said a march honoring Martin Luther King Jr. earlier this year opened his eyes to King's legacy here.

Malenga, 26, an international student from West Africa, participated in Grand Forks' first communitywide event in January honoring the civil rights leader. The unity walk was held to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 20 and anticipate the 50th anniversary today of King's "I have a dream" speech, according to organizers at UND.

The walk was significant for Malenga because it was the second inauguration of President Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, he said.

"At least for me, based on my background, you don't think that you could do something like that -- walk in a state where it seems like most people aren't too concerned about (racial issues)," he said. "It made me realize that there's a lot of concern about Dr. King's words and they really resonate in a lot of people's hearts to this day."

Malenga said King's dream hasn't been realized yet, but society is getting close. He lived in Japan, Maryland and Texas before moving to North Dakota, and he hasn't heard the "n-word" used on him since he was a young child, he said.

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As a member of UND's Black Student Association, he feels that the organization, as well as others on campus, makes an effort to welcome people who might "not be part of the majority group," he said. The Black Student Association offers a "safe space" where students can say what they think without judgment, he said.

"There's a solidarity, I guess, even though we come from different places," he said. "It's just like you're with family and friends."

Call Johnson at (701) 787-6736; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1736; or send e-mail to jjohnson@gfherald.com .

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