By Kayla Williamson
Some students served, some students marched and all students has the day off class for the first time on Martin Luther King, Jr. day.
Trevecca observed Martin Luther King Day for a full weekend this year. This is the first time the university has given students Martin Luther King Day off.
“When we didn’t have [Martin Luther King Day] off, that shocked me because I was so used to it, especially coming from high school,” said Tynaisia Rush, president of Walden, a leadership club for African American students. “So, just getting this day off really shows appreciation, not only to MLK, but also to the African American students on campus.”
Walden’s mission is to encourage “leadership among African American students, raise retention, and build communities.”
Javionne Smith, vice president of Walden, said arriving at Trevecca felt like a culture shock.
“I didn’t see that many black people around campus, but it definitely has grown since I got here,” said Smith. “Finally getting [Martin Luther King Day] off means that we’re actually growing and becoming more diverse. It feels like they actually do care.”
Students started the celebration Saturday, Jan. 19, with a community service day.
James Casler, Director of the J.V. Morsh Center for Social Justice, and one of the organizers for the community service day event, has been involved with the service day events for the past eight years.
“I think with the Martin Luther King Day of service is that we’re part of a bigger picture,” said Casler. “Working with other organizations that need hands and feet to actually do the work to alleviate poverty in the Nashville community.”
Casler appreciated the fact that Trevecca gave students Martin Luther King Day off.
“I’m just really proud of Trevecca and our administration for seeing the need for us to have Martin Luther King Day off and have observance of his work,” said Casler. “I’m proud of the students who advocated for having the Martin Luther King Day observance as well.”
One of the students who participated in the service day events was Stephany Ordonez, social justice major and junior.
“It was my first time going and I really liked it,” said Ordonez. “It really opened my eyes and it helped me see things from a different perspective. It was awesome how everyone came together and worked together as one.”
Ordonez volunteered at Feed the Children, one of the 20 organizations that students could choose from.
Students from Fisk, Meharry, Nashville State, Vanderbilt, Belmont, TSU and Lipscomb also participated in the event.
On Monday, Jan. 21, Trevecca’s Social Work club participated in the Martin Luther King Day March at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist church.
Allison Buzard, social work program director, carpooled with several other students to the march. After the memorial walk, participants met at TSU for an hour-long service.
“I think that honoring Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy and his work of anti-racism is so critical to who we are as Americans,” said Buzard. “I think it’s really important for us to pause and honor and observe and join in that work, because obviously that work is not done.”
While every major and student was welcome, Buzard said it’s especially important for social work majors to participate in these events.
“When I think about social work majors and our commitment to social justice and fighting inequities, it’s so important for our social workers to have opportunities to advocate, and to join in what’s already happening,” said Buzard.
Ordonez also walked in the Martin Luther King Day March with other fellow students. She was surprised that this is the first time that Trevecca is observing Martin Luther King Day.
“I wasn’t fully aware of it, but now I have full knowledge of what this is really all about,” said Ordonez. “I think the social injustices he [Martin Luther King] talked about are still present today, and we still need to talk through those.”
Trevecca ended Martin Luther King Day with a special chapel honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King. Students sang old hymns and performed spoken word.
The special guest for the night was Ernest Patton, who reflected on his memories of the civil rights movement, and his memories of moments he got to spend with Martin Luther King.
Students ended chapel, and Martin Luther King Day, by holding hands and singing the civil rights song, “We Shall Overcome,” by Mahalia Jackson.