PSU Black Studies professor reflects on MLK’s legacy

BY SHIRLEY JACKSON
FACULTY GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

This marks the 20th year that all U.S. states recognized the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national holiday. 

The idea of the MLK or King holiday, as it is referred to be many, started with Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s widow. After her husband’s assassination in April 1968, Coretta wanted to find a way to honor his memory and the work he was doing. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta was the result. 

Coretta continued to work diligently to have King’s birthday recognized as a holiday.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill that recognized King’s birthday as a national holiday. Some states began celebrating King’s birthday in the mid-1980s, a few southern states celebrated it along with the birthday of Civil War Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee, but it took until 1990 for all states to observe the King holiday.

King’s birthday gives us the opportunity to remember the things that he did in his lifetime and spurs us to continue this work. 

His legacy includes the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the many speeches and marches he gave, and his writings such as his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” which was a response to white religious leaders who warned him against embarking upon his nonviolent activities. 

In this letter, King vocalized the importance of his actions, writing, “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.” King’s statement makes clear that while things look as though they will not change, with time, they will — and not because we are loud or quiet, riotous or righteous, but because we are sound and right. The key is understanding that there are different ways of going about it and some may be quick, and some may be slower than others.  

“Make it a day on, instead of a day off,”
by engaging in service activities. Let us remember why we celebrate this day.

Following the passage of the Civil Rights Bill in 1964 and the Voting Rights Bill in 1965, King moved to other issues such as employment, housing, and opposition to the Vietnam War. 

His assassination at the age of 39 did not end the work he set out to do. 

As we celebrate his birthday, many opt to “Make it a day on, instead of a day off,” by engaging in service activities in their communities. Let us remember why we celebrate this day. 

Happy Birthday Dr. King!

Shirley A. Jackson, Portland State University Professor,
PSU Black Studies Department

How to Survive the Winter Academic Blues

By Maya Young

Winter is arguably one of the toughest terms of the academic year. Why? Inclement weather, little-to-no sunshine, shorter days, and few breaks with no holidays to break up the time. Essentially, winter term is a dark and fast-paced 11-weeks of school with little time off to rest. To combat these issues and continue powering through the year, here are some tips that have worked for me in my years at PSU:

  1. Find new places to study and do homework.

The bad weather makes it tempting to just stay indoors and do homework at home. Instead, branch out and add some more structure and change to your schedule. Do homework in the numerous cafes and coffee shops around campus, study in the school library, or even in some of the awesome buildings such as Karl Miller Center. 

  1. Exercise.

Although the trek to the campus gym may be daunting in this weather, exercising rewards you with higher levels of energy which can be essential for staying motivated! Pair this with a healthy diet, good amounts of sleep, and you will feel good enough to conquer this term.

  1. Reward yourself.

Studying for long periods of time can be difficult. For me, I am easily distracted and have trouble maintaining focus. Give yourself incentives so that you can maintain focus, complete your schoolwork, and do something for yourself when it is all over with.

Five Online Resources to Help You Sail Through PSU

Untitled design-3 by Claire Golden

College homework is no joke. When you get hit with your first five-page essay with an annotated bibliography, you may feel like curling up in a blanket and imitating a burrito for the next four years. But I’m here to tell you that not only are college assignments survivable, they don’t have to take forever! These are five sources I wish I had known about when I started college.

turned-on-silver-imac-with-might-mouse-and-keyboard-930530

  1. Canva.com is an amazing resource for creating infographics, resumés, cover letters, and many more graphic design elements. It’s easy to use and looks fantastic.

  2. To pair with the above website, Pexels.com is a great place to find public domain stock images. (It’s what I used for the image in this post.)

  3. Gutenberg.com is perfect for the English majors out there. It houses thousands of public domain ebooks that you can download for free to read either on your computer or ereader.

  4. And if you prefer audiobooks, then LibriVox.com is perfect for you, because you can find free audiobooks of thousands of classic novels, all read by volunteers. Great to play during your commute or while exercising.

  5. If citing sources is the bane of your existence, you might like EasyBib.com as much as I do. It’s a great resource to help you avoid plagiarism and cite correctly.

Like it or not, being a human blanket burrito will not earn you a degree. But hopefully these resources will prove as helpful to you as they were to me. Now if only I could go back in time and tell my younger self about them.

No Time Like The Present

By: Adair Bingham

Every year, people find themselves trying to implement egotistic New Year’s resolutions and self-betterment plans to try and work on themselves and encourage their loved ones to attempt to do the same. Many of these half-baked resolutions fall through during the first few months of the New Year, often earlier, and then quickly become the elephant in the room. Nobody likes admitting failure, and thus they simply move on with their lives and find it better to ignore their half-hearted attempts at what could’ve been a fulfilling resolution.

With a new decade upon us, I think that it’d be best for us (especially those caught in awkward, transitional periods of life) to commit to at least one resolution: self-care. We can ease off of those often strict and overly harsh regulations that we put onto ourselves and focus on improving ourselves at our own pace. By acknowledging the importance of accepting life’s challenges at your own pace, the world suddenly becomes a lot easier to navigate.

Everywhere I look, both in the real world and online, I find hordes of people preaching about the importance of self-care and self-acceptance, but no one ever actually seems to follow through with what they wax poetic about. If you’re going to rhapsodize about the inherent beauty of performing self-care and practicing self-acceptance, then, at the very least, acknowledge that it is not a simple one-step process to self-love. It’s a long, conflicting, and often confusing journey that will take an extraordinary amount of time, energy, and effort to achieve. To put it bluntly; it’s a horrifically ugly and often lonely undertaking, but in doing so, an entirely new world can be discovered.

So, as we all welcome a decade into our lives, let’s all try our best to prioritize our mental health and well-being, and understand that that there is no wrong way to lead your life. By simply doing things at your very own pace, you are succeeding and advancing, and that’s all there is to it.

Turning Over a New Leaf

Last spring was the first time I’d had a backyard since moving to Portland. Packed away in my boxes from California, I found a large seed bundle that my mother had gifted me before I left, carefully protected from moisture in a plastic bag. She always enjoyed gardening and my fond memories of stuffing my cheeks like a squirrel with sun-warmed tomatoes as a child compelled me to try gardening myself. I also love to cook, which was another incentive to have fresh herbs and veggies at my disposal. 

My first plants were started on the windowsill in an egg carton, lovingly labelled with popsicle sticks. The soil wasn’t nearly as deep as it should have been, and they dried out quickly, the popsicle sticks becoming a little moldy when I overwatered. As a perfectionist that does not often start a new hobby, I was absolutely devastated. My maternal feelings that I’d poured into these little plants were severely hurt. 

My partner helped me research what I’d done wrong and gather more information like how much water I really should be giving them, how much space and light the seedlings need and that I should use plastic markers instead of wood. I invested in a grow light and proper seed trays with a good, organic starting mix. I was able to find about fifty pots of various sizes on the neighborhood app Nextdoor for free. 

My second attempt went incredibly well! I figured all of this out a bit late in the season, so my plants grew big but didn’t really produce anything. I still got some herbs out of it, though, and the knowledge about what to do this upcoming spring! As soon as it’s warm enough outside, I’ll be ready to go! 

It was an incredible feeling to watch the shoots poke through the soil, and like my tomato plant, grow into a massive thing that came from a little seed. I would often take my phone calls outside and pull up a chair next to the plant, rubbing a stem between my fingers to elicit that addictive smell. I may not be perfect at gardening, and I probably never will be. In that way, it’s a good hobby for someone like me to have.

Coming Back Home

By: Ragan Love

I moved away from Colorado for the first time in September. I talk to my family pretty often, so I  didn’t think it would be that hard to adjust to home life when I went back for the holidays. It was actually more difficult than I expected. 

I come from a family of three: my dad, my little brother and me. When high school ended, I started working full time at a restaurant and came home to clean and cook dinner for my family. This became the norm for my family, and when I left for school in September, they didn’t realize how much they depended on me. When I talked to them after the first month, they hadn’t eaten  a home-cooked meal, checked the mail, or vacuumed the living room. It got to the point where the mailman actually put a box on the porch filled with all the mail. This is when it really hit all three of us life had changed. I began to jokingly text them reminders to do their chores, and by November, they were actually doing them.

When I got home after the fall quarter I felt like I was a guest in my own house. All of my old tasks now belonged to my brother or dad. If I wanted to clean anything my father would stop me because he didn’t want me having to clean where I wasn’t living anymore. When I wanted to cook dinner, my dad told me that he already had a plan for our dinner. One moment that really stuck out to me is my second night home when we were planning to have ramen for dinner. I came into the kitchen to help but my dad and brother had everything covered; there was nothing for me to do. That was the first time that I hadn’t helped with our family dinner, and it made me feel like a stranger.

I was warned how different it would be coming home for the first time after starting college, but I didn’t expect that I would feel like my family didn’t need me anymore. I thought that this is how my dad would feel, not me. It wasn’t all negative. I had moments that made me happy to be back home. I am pretty close to my little brother and during break he was constantly asking for help on college applications and told me how he was happy that I was home. We got to chill out and talk about everything that’s been happening without one of us cutting out on FaceTime.

I think I shouldn’t have expected my household to be the same after leaving for four months. It wasn’t just hard for me. My brother and dad also had to adjust to my absence. My brother is heading off to school in the fall, and our family dynamic will change again once we are both out of the house. Instead of feeling a sense of loss, I now view this transition as a chance for all three of us to grow and be our own people.

New Term, New Goals

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

Going through pictures from this last term showed me that I have fallen out of touch with some friends. I consoled myself by thinking this hadn’t happened purposely, but more out of necessity with our busy schedules. I spent Fall term trying to find a new balance between my personal and academic life. My classes were harder than in previous years, and I was also keeping more active than ever.

I recognize now that I didn’t prioritize my social life as much as I had in the past. I tended to hang out with friends who were the most convenient travel-wise. This realization made me feel like a terrible person, especially since the friends I’d lost touch with are mainly those who had graduated. As someone who’s graduating this year, this is exactly the trap I want to avoid and I fear falling into it.

 My goal this term is to reconnect with those friends and focus on strengthening my outreach skills—even if it’s just a quick message to touch base. I’m definitely one to be easily wrapped up in school and my own busy life, but I realize more than ever the effort required to maintain important friendships even if they present new challenges for keeping in touch.