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Students, faculty, and staff at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday with an interactive photo montage at the Student Union organized by the Division of Student Life and various campus partners.

Chancellor Donde Plowman and Dean of Students Shea Kidd Houze acknowledged the many challenges the UT community is facing as they encouraged students to keep moving forward and to reflect on the individual and collective responsibilities we each have in realizing King’s dream.

“The only way forward in Dr. King’s words is to keep moving. We must continue to make sacrifices to keep ourselves and our community safe until this pandemic is over. We must continue to be the example of the society we want to live in—one of respect and compassion, peace, civility. And we must continue to confront racism and injustice, carrying the mantle of Dr. King’s work,” Plowman said.

At the event, participants had their photos taken and added to a collage that created an image of King. Student Body President Karmen Jones shared remarks, and Marshall Scholar and social justice advocate Josie Campbell performed two musical pieces on cello.

“Every year I come out for the MLK Day of Service with my fraternity brothers and my friends. Obviously with COVID celebrations looked a little bit different this year, but when I found out UT was still having a ceremony to honor MLK, I knew I had to come,” said Noah Dandridge, a senior supply chain major from Memphis. “It just feels good to be around people and be in fellowship with each other.”

The commemoration will continue into next week with the 35th Annual MLK Celebration hosted by the Office of Multicultural Student Life and the Black Cultural Programming Committee. This year’s keynote speaker is Eddie Glaude Jr., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. Participants can attend in person or virtually.

Additionally, the Jones Center for Leadership and Service will host its annual MLK Jr. Days of Service January 25 through February 5. Students, faculty, and staff can sign up in small groups to volunteer in the greater Knoxville area.

CONTACT:

Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993, msteph44@utk.edu)