by Kayla Williamson
Trevecca students marched in the annual Martin Luther King Day march for the second consecutive year.
This year marks the second year that Trevecca gave students Martin Luther King Day off, joining other colleges and universities in acknowledging it as a federal holiday. Last year, Allison Buzard, professor and director of social work, took a group of students to participate in the Martin Luther King Day march. This year, she continued the tradition, and around 6 Trevecca students participated.
Along with celebrating the life of Martin Luther King and this year being the 31st annual MLK Day March, they were also celebrating the 100th year anniversary of the women’s suffrage movement. The official theme was called “we are the ones we have been waiting for.”
For Cassidy Fleenor, freshman and elementary education major, this meant “we can make a change, even there’s just a few people, we can spark something.”
Brianna Salyer, junior and social work major, said there were many talents to witness during the event.
“They had a lot of speakers, dance groups, and spoken word artists,” Salyer said. “It was really nice to see a lot of talent from people from the African American community.”
One of speakers included Joy-Ann Reid, who is the television talk show host of MSNBC’s “AM Joy.” Salyer said a lot of other female speakers talked about Martin Luther King and continuing the movement for rights for African American women.
“Growing up, whenever we were taught about MLK Day, they made it seem like it was so distant and that it was so far in history,” she said. “The further I’ve gotten into college and learned about social work, the more I realize that the injustices back then are still prevalent today.”
For Buzard, that is part of reason why it’s important for Trevecca to acknowledge Martin Luther King Day. She said it gives students time to reflect on his message and get involved with tons of activities that happen around the city.
“I love that our students get to intersect with other aspects of Nashville and march towards a common goal,” Buzard said. “I think that I’ve been really encouraged as I’ve talked to different students and faculty and just hearing the different ways they engaged in a whole weekend of opportunities.”
Fleenor said she grew up in a small town that did not do a lot to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. She was encouraged by Buzard’s message during chapel to participate in the event.
“It opened my eyes to the injustices that are in the world, and I guess I didn’t realize how bad it was,” Fleenor said. “It was a good experience for me.”
Among learning about injustices the African American community deals with, she also learned about a phenomenon called the ‘black tax’ which is money that black professionals give to struggling family members, and self esteem issues that arise when people of color are not represented in the media.
“There was a high school girl talking about injustices people face, and how little black girls feel like they’re not beautiful,” Fleenor said. “It really hurt my heart.”
For Sayler, her passion comes from advocating and being Christian.
“If our religious beliefs tell us to love everybody, then we should do what we can to stand up and with the people we love,” she said. “Trevecca has marketed heavily the idea of diversity, and while we have a lot of diverse students, I feel like we still have so many moments where different or diverse populations are left out in a lot of ways.
Buzard echoed Sayler and said some college students struggle with stepping out of their comfort zone.
“Life is super busy as a college student. Some of our students are going to school full time, working a bunch of hours, and are involved with all kinds of academic and social events,” she said. “I think it’s really common during college to get segregated up on our campuses. I think it’s hard to step outside of that and see Nashville, even though that’s the hope and the goal of Trevecca and a lot of our students.”
In order to encourage more students to participate, Buzard is hoping to get a bus or organize carpooling again for next year’s Martin Luther King Day march.
“I wonder if it will help all students feel like they have access. I know it can be intimidating to figure out where to park and all that stuff,” she said. “I think it’s critical for all students, white students, black students, brown students, and brown students to reflect on Martin Luther King’s work.”