Candlelight vigil honors marchers

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Story by Abby Reynolds

Baker University’s Mungano organization tried to exemplify the importance of breaking the barriers of racial segregation Sunday by showing the meaning behind the historical past of the Civil Rights era.

Mungano hosted its 31st annual Candlelight Vigil in the Osborne Memorial Chapel to honor those who fought for justice and equality during the civil rights movement.

“It is a very important day,” University Minister Ira DeSpain said. “It is a day to remember those who marched when it wasn’t so easy to march.”

The main purpose of the vigil is to honor those who marched or fought during the Civil Rights movement, to bring back Mungano alumni to show the history behind the organization and to induct the new Mungano officers.

The ceremony recognized two important figures in Mungano’s history, Jesse Milan and John Njoroge. Milan was the first African American professor at Baker University and the first adviser for Mungano in 1969. Milan and Njoroge were influential speakers about the era that raised everlasting racial tension in the nation and contributed to a difficult time of struggle for the African American race.

The guest speaker was Cheryl Brown Henderson, president of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka and one of the first members of Mungano. Mungano Adviser Silas Dulan first met Brown Henderson while taking a group of students to the Brown v. Board of Education site last spring.

Coming back to Baker Sunday was a bittersweet moment for Brown Henderson.

“It showed me how important Baker is to me and my life, and I can’t believe that Mungano has lasted this long,” Brown Henderson said. “It is a lasting legacy.”

After the guest speaker and both men were recognized, the installation of the new Mungano officers took place.

President Katerra Shackelford, vice president John Babb, treasurer Eldina Kunic, historian Amanda Sams and public relations officer JaNay Adgers were all inducted as the Mungano Executive Board that will serve for the 2011-2012 school year.

At the end of the ceremony, there was a candle-lit walk around campus with the singing of songs from the Civil Rights movement era.

“It is amazing to see my organization that I was a part of when I was at Baker still alive and running,” Dulan said.