Events planned for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Posted By | January 10, 2017 7:46 am

As social justice and human and civil rights are at the forefront of many political discussions, the Tennessee Tech campus community will come together to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a weekend of events designed to spark constructive conversation about the past, present and future.

The university’s Commission on the Status of Blacks, athletics department, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and Center Stage are partnering with the greater community to host a series of events including a non-violence workshop on Saturday, Jan. 14; youth peace awards on Jan. 15; a keynote speaker on Jan. 16; a silent march on campus Jan. 17 and volunteer opportunities for students on Jan. 18.

“We want to elevate the conversation about civil rights in Cookeville,” said Andrew Smith, Tennessee Tech English instructor, member of the university’s Commission on the Status of Blacks and chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day events committee. “The idea is to get people talking about racial justice and King’s message.”

Smith said that often he hears people talk about how things would be different if we approached today’s issues with the same non-violent approach that King employed, so he is especially interested in helping people explore exactly what that means.

To do just that, a non-violence workshop at the Oakley STEM Center on Tech’s campus will take place on Saturday, Jan. 14 from 9 a.m. to noon, with refreshments beginning at 8:30 a.m. The workshop is open to the community and will be an opportunity to learn more about King in a hands-on atmosphere.

Sponsored by the Tech MLK Day Committee and the Treehouse and New Hall North Learning Villages, the workshop will be led by award-winning scholar and theologically-trained grassroots community organizer Keith Caldwell. The Oakley STEM Center is located at 155 W. 7th St.

On Sunday, Jan. 15 at 2 p.m. the community will have an opportunity to view entries in the Youth Peace Awards Peace and Racial Harmony Peace Project contest, an initiative of the Interfaith Peace Project. The projects will be displayed at First Presbyterian Church in Cookeville, located at 20 North Dixie Ave. This is open to the public.

Monday afternoon at 4 p.m., Luther Ivory will speak in Derryberry Hall Auditorium. Ivory is an associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes College in Memphis and teaches courses on theology, King and the modern civil rights movement, and he has written extensively on King’s legacy. His presentation is sponsored by Center Stage and Tennessee Tech Athletics and is free and open to the public.

On Tuesday, the Tech chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha will host a silent march on campus beginning at 11 a.m. The campus community is invited to join the march starting at the president’s lawn and ending in front of Derryberry Hall. At 7:08 that evening in the campus’ Black Cultural Center there will be a free viewing of the film “Selma.”

On Wednesday, student volunteers from Tech will take part in a curated conversation with participants in the local Teens Need Training program. TNT is a program of Highlands Residential Services and provides enriching opportunities to teens. Wednesday’s conversation will bring high school and college students together to discuss race.

“I think it would be beneficial for the community to attend these events because it gives us all a space to talk about topics that may be difficult to discuss otherwise,” said Tisheika Snow, hall director in New Hall North, chair of the CSB for 2017, and co-chair of the university’s MLK committee. “I also think attending the events will give us an opportunity to come together and find out how to support and encourage one another, which I think we really need right now.”

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