News, On campus

Community Service Events Held for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Woman with black hair kneels down as she stocks shelves with food.
Grad student Bethany Petty, manager of the Tennessee Tech Food Pantry stocks the shelves during the MLK service event hosted on January 21st.
Photo by Bethany Goodman.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Commission on the Status of Blacks (CSB) held two community service events on Jan. 21 and 28.

“A lot of the events that we are doing focus on MLK’s philosophy of service and looking at how do we help people be successful and to grow, and pretty much looking at what he called ‘the beloved community’,” Director of Multicultural Affairs Charria Campbell said.

Campbell explained that while Martin Luther King Jr. Day is only one day, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and CSB want to create a week of service allowing students, faculty and staff a greater opportunity to give back to the community and live out King’s philosophy of service.

The first community service event, which was held on Friday, Jan. 21, benefited Tech’s food pantry. Established in 2012, the food pantry serves students, faculty and staff facing food insecurity.

The service event focused on assessing, organizing and restocking the inventory of the pantry. Campus members signed up to assist in organizing the pantry or help shop for needed food items.

Last year, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and CSB were able to sort through and donate hundreds of books to all Upper Cumberland Region Head Start programs.

This year, on Friday, Jan. 28, they donated books to the Cookeville Head Start program. These programs are a federal service that promote school readiness for children of low-income families.

“Dr King’s initial goal was to push for equality for black people who were not receiving, or not being extended to, their full rights of citizenship, and this was in a number of different areas,” Arthur Banton, assistant history professor at Tech and CSB chairperson, said.

“Over time, as he mentioned in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in 1963, this included other ethnic minorities, such as Chicanos – using the term of the day – Jews, and even working-class whites.”

Banton explained that current and future generations can help carry out King’s legacy by not only serving their own communities, but also others that might be in need.

Volunteering, caring for neighbors, and addressing civic and social issues are some of the ways that Banton believes King’s legacy can be continued.

Fifty-four-years after King’s death, Campbell believes that his philosophy of serving others and caring for the beloved community continues to live on. She hopes that these service opportunities act as a reminder to students of the importance of being a servant to those around you.

“It’s always important that we remember to give back. None of us can get to where we are, or where we’re going, without the help of somebody,” Campbell said.