NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Wednesday, and will continue his legacy by participating in a “Joint Day of Service” this weekend.
On Wednesday, the university remembered King by ringing a bell 39 times, the age of the civil rights icon when he was gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. An excerpt was played of King’s prophetic “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” speech, and a wreath was presented in his honor.
In that speech, which he gave in Memphis the day before he was killed, King said: “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop … I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”
TSU President Glenda Glover spoke to local news stations before Wednesday’s event and said she hopes the activities commemorating King will inspire young people to continue his fight for social justice, as well as heed his call to get an education and vote.
“I want the students to walk away with the knowledge that they must participate in political and economic struggles that are still going on,” said Glover, whose father worked for the sanitation department in Memphis where King was helping energize workers who were on strike.
“We want students to understand that those not registered to vote, must indeed do so.”
JerMilton Woods, president of TSU’s Student Government Association, agreed.
“When it comes to our students, when it comes to Nashville, when it comes to our world, we still have to fight to make sure everything’s on an equal playing field,” said Woods, a graduating senior from Memphis.
The event with other area higher education institutions was originally scheduled for Jan. 13, but was postponed because of inclement weather.
However, organizers say it’s only fitting that an event keeping King’s legacy of service alive should take place amid commemoration of his death.
“What better way to commemorate him than by serving others,” said Shirley Nix-Davis, director of outreach for TSU’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement. “One of his quotes is, ‘everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.’”
In addition to performing service projects across Metro Nashville, TSU students will provide more than 10,000 meals for families in need. That project will take place in TSU’s Gentry Complex at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Last year, more than 300 TSU students participated in various MLK Day of Service projects around Nashville that included working with kids, assisting elderly residents, packing food and painting.
Linda Tynan, a resident at an independent living apartment complex in La Vergne, Tennessee, said she was grateful for the assistance students provided last year.
“I think it’s terrific to see these students lend a hand to people they don’t even know,” Tynan said. “I appreciated every minute of it.”
For more information about TSU’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/servicelearning/
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With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.