Student’s winning Martin Luther King Jr. Day poster design is a call to action

November 15, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The time is right to speak up for justice, according to the designer of this year’s poster for the 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Commemoration.

Hayle Stoner, a senior graphic design major, created the poster in Lanny Sommese’s GD 400 Time and Sequence course that exposes students to real-world design with a deadline, as well as client and prescribed project specifications.

Stoner’s design was selected by members of the faculty/staff and student MLK Day planning committees, and will be used to promote various MLK events on campus such as the Forum on Black Affair’s MLK Banquet on Jan. 15 and the Evening Celebration on Jan. 20.

“Right now in our country we are using our anger and judgement to rule our actions, which is leading our people to turn against one another in fear,” wrote Stoner in a description of her design. “It is time that we come together as a society to solve a problem, to speak up for what we believe in, for justice. When Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the Letter from Birmingham Jail he was calling out for people to share their voices for a cause. By staying silent while heartbreaking events unfold you are contributing to the ongoing problem.

“In my poster design, I wanted to call out those people who are watching the violence continue but are still staying silent. The design is meant to relate to a broad audience, to show it could be any one of us. The shade of red symbolizes the figure being alert due to rising tensions. Their eyes are open wide to see exactly what is going on but their hand remains over their mouth in silence. In the reflection of the eyes you see a cop and a silhouetted figure. This is to call out the present controversy unfolding between African-Americans and law enforcement. In the eyes there is no hero or victim because if we ever want to resolve this conflict we have to take a step back from that. We have to start looking at all of us as one in the same, we are all people, and we all must come together and stop being silent, which is what this poster represents.”

The theme for the 2017 MLK Jr. Commemoration is “When Silence Becomes Betrayal.” Inspired by the words of King, the theme is a reminder for Penn Staters to use their voices in the face of injustice. The hashtag, #ISpokeUpWhen, will be used to allow faculty, staff and students to be recognized for times they spoke up for others.

  • Hayle Stoner posing with her poster

    "It is time that we come together as a society to solve a problem, to speak up for what we believe in, for justice," writes Hayle Stoner in explaining the inspiration for her design. 

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated November 15, 2016