Tech honors MLK Jr’s legacy with week of service opportunities

Students and campus community members participate in the annual MLK Silent March.Tennessee Tech University will be honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a weeklong schedule of events and service opportunities January 16 - 19.

King was a Baptist minister, activist, and one of the most notable leaders in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Organizations across the country honor his legacy by finding service opportunities.

The activities and service opportunities this year extend to a week with new events being added over the past five years, according to Rob Owens, chief diversity officer at Tech. He said the Center for Student Engagement was much more involved in the process of selecting or choosing the events in addition to the Commission on the Status of Blacks who have typically developed the programming for MLK week.  

“We've increased the activity, but if I’m going to give credit, if I can find a point where I remember the activity increasing, before it would have it would have something to do with the Commission on the Status of Blacks,” Owens said. “Because that commission started engaging the speaker to come for MLK Day, and so that's really when we began to formalize and expand our offerings.” 

On Monday, Jan. 16 there are no classes and campus offices are closed. There will be a MLK Day breakfast with the Putnam County NAACP at 8 a.m. at Algood Methodist Church and the week of service opportunities begins. The entry for students is $5 and $10 for those who are not students.

The Tennessee Tech Food Pantry Restock Day will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers meet at the food pantry at Tech Village, 910 N. Willow Avenue.

Jan. 17 there will be an Alpha Phi Alpha Silent March at 11 a.m. starting on the university president’s lawn. Owens said the Silent March led by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity has taken place on campus for years and the campus community “has supported that event and promoted it, so that's been a mainstay for a couple of decades.” Owens said this march is special as it is in honor of King’s walks.

“I'm excited. I always get a thrill out of the Silent March. Because for me, I'm not even really with the generation of the civil rights movement. That's the 50s and 60s, before I was born. But when I think about the Civil Rights Movement, and that one of the ways that they physically push for change was by participating in marches and protests, peaceful protests, particularly with Dr. King.”

Owens said the Silent March helps one to get in the mindset of how things happened in the past, from the silence standpoint of it, the marching together, protests and what King stood for.  

“I love that day, and then there's a diversity of people,” Owens said. “You know, it's not just black students, it's a diverse group of people from across our university, from administration, to faculty to students, I just love it.”

January 18 is a Cookeville Rescue Mission service opportunity, in the RUC Multipurpose Room at 9 a.m. Volunteers will prepare boxed lunches and serve lunch to the homeless outside the RUC Multipurpose Room.

Transportation will be provided to service locations, volunteers will meet at 1000 N. Dixie Avenue, and a free T-shirt will be provided for participants.

January 19 is a Candlelight Vigil at 6 p.m. in the RUC Multipurpose Room. The legacy of MLK Jr. will be celebrated through the reflections of students and staff. 

“I'm excited about the vigil that's happening with this,” Owens said. “My understanding, this is the first time at least since I've been at the institution, which has been a long time working and as a student, that there's been a candlelight vigil focused on Dr. King in his life and legacy.”

Owens said a successful tribute to King would be “a week where Dr. King, his life, and his contributions to the Earth are celebrated, and more people than the year before know about who he was, what he did, and how it has impacted the world. And, more tangibly, I would suggest that each of these events has a significant number of students.”

In the years to come Owens would like to see a continued increase in the number of events and the number of projects that happen in that week, with more opportunities to engage the campus community and the number of people involved. 

“Another way that we can increase the footprint of MLK week is by engaging with the community as well. I would love to see some partnerships between the university and local city and county governments, maybe even some of the religious institutions as well,” Owens said.

For more information on the events contact the Center for Student Engagement at


Editor's Note: This release has been updated to reflect changes to event plans. For the most recent available information, please visit

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