Martin Luther King, Jr.’s heart was discovered at death to be the heart of a man twice his age.

The only vacation King took during his time as a leader of the civil rights movement, was to Jamaica to write his book, ‘Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community.’

Bringing MLK’s legacy to life, Tricia Rose, Ph.D., spoke on Monday, in the Simplot Ballroom to an audience of nearly 200. Everyone from students to professors and  legislators were in attendance. Rose was invited by the MLK Living Legacy Committee to serve as the keynote speaker for Boise State’s Martin Luther King Living Legacy Celebration.

The night began as Francisco Salinas, director for Student Diversity and Inclusion at Boise State, introduced local artist Patrick “Patcasso” Hunter.

As a recording of one of King’s speeches started playing, Hunter began to paint. Hunter finished in only a few minutes to a standing ovation and the haunting eyes of Martin Luther King, Jr. stared out from the once blank canvas.

Rose then took the stage to speak on issues of race in today’s society.

“Our situation now is not unlike Apple Maps,” Rose said. “We have very pretty frameworks with some good calculations. Apple Maps is not a total failure. It is actually a good asset but at the same time it fundamentally didn’t work.”

To further her point, Rose cited unbalanced race ratios in U.S. prisons, the generational cycle of impoverished youth and the 2002 study which showed a hiring bias against people with ethnic-sounding names, conducted by Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mulainathan at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

Though admitting we have come far, Rose insists we have a lot of work left. She spoke of the danger of being soothed into complacency by society.

“We as a nation have the gift of a legal investment to produce the language of justice … but we also have this incredible capacity to find ways to have something on paper that doesn’t have any meaning in real life,” Rose said. “So we can have a consumer protection agency where consumers aren’t protected.”

It was a perspective that made some students think.

“I guess I never really thought about it that way,” said junior political science major Jesse Martin. “I know not to listen to talking heads on everything in our government from finances to war but I’d never really thought about it in terms of racism.”

Rose focused on the embodiment of Boise State’s own theme, “A living legacy means we have to own it. We can’t just borrow it. We can’t just speak to it in idealistic terms. And a legacy that is genuinely alive, that is genuinely embodied is a tradition that we cultivate and pass down. We don’t just look at and say, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah me too.’”

After the speech concluded, Rose spent a few minutes with those who lingered, signing copies of her books and taking pictures by request.

“She seems bigger than life,” said freshman biology major Veronica Munoz.  “She said things tonight about my own history that I had no idea about. I feel kind of stupid for it but now I want to go out
and help.”