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UT students, faculty, and staff join the Knoxville community to participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade.
UT students, faculty, and staff join the Knoxville community to participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade.

Each year the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., one of history’s greatest advocates for racial equality. This year, the Volunteer community is extending its efforts to give back while commemorating King throughout January and February and into the summer.

“UT is honored to sponsor and host the annual MLK Leadership Awards and Luncheon as well as promote other MLK community events,” said Tyvi Small, vice chancellor for diversity and engagement. “As a campus community, our shared goal of creating a climate where everyone matters, everyone belongs, mirrors the lifelong work of Dr. Martin Luther King as he advocated for freedom, justice and equality.”

A variety of celebrations and events will honor King’s legacy:

  • UT is partnering with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Commission on the MLK Leadership Education Symposium, featuring community leaders and university experts discussing a range of social justice topics. In conjunction with the symposium, the Leadership Awards Luncheon will honor citizens from all segments of Knoxville who have made a difference in the community. Both events will be held in the UT Student Union on Jan. 12.
  • A community forum sponsored by the commission, UT, and the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, “Challenging Disparities: Making Equality by Making a Difference,” will take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center in Knoxville.
  • Of Ebony Embers: Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance,” a chamber music theatrical work celebrating the lives of great African American poets, will be performed at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15 in Cox Auditorium of the Alumni Memorial Building.
  • The Division of Diversity and Engagement will sponsor the annual MLK Skate Day at the Change Center. The free event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16.
  • UT’s Jones Center for Leadership and Service will host its annual MLK Jr. Days of Service Jan. 30 through Feb. 10. Students, faculty and staff can sign up in small groups to volunteer in the greater Knoxville area over the two-week period. Registration will open on Monday, January 16 on ServeUTK.
  • Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to be part of the university’s group in the 41st annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, held by the commission this year on Monday, June 19. The route will run from Chilhowee Park’s midway entrance on North Beaman Street to Overcoming Believers Church on Harriet Tubman Street. Registration and lineup will begin at 8:30 a.m. at Chilhowee Park, and step-off is at 10 a.m.

This year marks a celebratory anniversary for UT’s Commission for Blacks. The body was formed in 1973 by then Chancellor Archie Dykes and has advised university leadership for 50 years on planning, implementation and evaluation of university programs, policies and services as they relate to Black students, faculty and staff.


Lindsey Owen McBee (865-974-6375,

Jeff Tippett (865-974-5652,