“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
—Martin Luther King, Jr., “Conquering Self-Centeredness”, 1957
Each January, we plan events that celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Before 2014, we worked with student leaders on “daycare facelift” projects to help spruce up area child care centers.
In 2014, we took a new approach to celebrating MLK day, hosting four events focusing on service and discussion of Dr. King’s philosophy.
Celebrating MLK with Service & Discussion
February 7, 2014- The last week of January, VT Engage celebrated civil rights activist and social change leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, with four service and discussion events.
We designed the events to focus on a different piece of his expansive philosophy, including fighting poverty, nonviolent social change, and fighting discrimination. Then, each tenet of his philosophy was tied to the realities of life in our society today.
We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, poverty spreads its nagging, prehensile tentacles into hamlets and villages all over our world.
- “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution” speech, March 31, 1968
On Thursday, January 30 and Friday, January 31 two groups of students, AmeriCorps VISTAs, and VT Engage staff (a total of 18 volunteers) headed to Radford-Fairlawn Daily Bread to prepare meals for people in need.
Daily Bread serves over 22,000 meals each year through a combination of preparing meals for Meals on Wheels and serving individuals at their facility for lunch. Each day, Daily Bread typically serves between 40-60 people for lunch, and 39 people through Meals on Wheels.
Those who come to lunch in person also have the option to take home donated food from corporate sponsors such as Walmart, Kroger, Wade’s, the Food Lion, and dining services at Virginia Tech.
Says one of the long-time DB volunteers: “Our goal is to just feed those who are hungry.” Hear, hear!
Nonviolent Social Change
Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.
- Nobel Prize acceptance speech, December 10, 1964
Also on Friday, we held a discussion at the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention on nonviolence. The discussion “What is nonviolence? Why does it matter?, was facilitated by Dr. Marian Mollin, social movements scholar and nonviolent activist/trainer, and ASPECT PhD students Jordan Hill and Katie Cross.
Attended by 40+ students, faculty, and staff, participants were encouraged by the panel members to question their assumptions about violence and nonviolence.
Fighting Racism and Discrimination
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
-“I have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963
Our final MLK celebration event was over dinner on Friday night. Eighteen guests engaged in an eye-opening discussion of what the civil rights struggles looks like in today’s diverse world. Hosted at the Wesley Foundation, we welcomed special guest Dr. Wornie Reed, director of Tech’s Race and Social Policy Center, who knew Dr. King.
Martin Luther King Daycare Facelift
This event paired students with organizations serving children in the New River Valley to spruce up daycare centers. By leading a team in helping to revitalize the community or joining a team, our students worked to honor Dr. King’s legacy through service four years in a row.
Student leaders planned these service project with local childcare centers. They were responsible for meeting with their service site to develop a plan for their project according to the service site’s needs.
With a budget of $100 for project materials (i.e. paint, brushes, construction materials, cleaning supplies, etc.), teams and individuals completed some great projects. Check out their work below!