NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – On Saturday, April 7, Tennessee State University participated in a Joint Day of Service in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The event was originally scheduled for Jan. 13, but was postponed because of inclement weather.
More than 200 TSU students joined others from area universities and colleges to perform service projects across Metro Nashville.
Organizers said the Day of Service, which took place amid the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of King’s death, is a continuation of the late civil right leader’s legacy.
“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.’”
On Wednesday, TSU 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.
“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 President Glenda 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.”
On Saturday at TSU’s Gentry Complex, about 60 volunteers worked with Rise Against Hunger, a humanitarian group, to prepare 10,000 meals for families in need around the world.
Kesha Patrice, a TSU Ph.D. student in counseling psychology from Sacramento, California, was one of them. She said Dr. King “stood for treating others as equals and giving back” to those who are less fortunate.
“There are lots of people who are either less fortunate or been hit by a natural disaster who are not able to get food supply,” Patrice said. “One of Dr. King’s messages was ‘to bring light to darkness,’ and that’s what we are doing today by packaging all this meals to help those who are hungry.”
Patrice’s fellow Ph.D. student, Michael Oyeteju, also majoring in counseling psychology, said “it is very satisfying” to give back.
“Taking time out of my Saturday to give back to those who may be more in need, whether it is my own community or internationally, just makes me feel real good to know that someone is benefitting from my little help,” said Oyeteju, from Houston.
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.
Dr. Linda Guthrie is the director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement. She said in addition to giving back, it is important for students to engage in service learning activities as part of their college work.
“By coming out and doing this, students are showing leadership skills, communication skills, and something good they can put on their resumes when they are looking for jobs,” said Guthrie. “This way they are also able to reach out to the community.”
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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.