A man who chose activism at the age of 15 by hitchhiking to Washington, D.C., to join Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his 1963 march will mark the end of Tennessee Tech University’s celebration of Black History Month.
Robert Avery and two friends relied on the kindness of strangers in the segregated South to travel the 700 miles from Gadsden, Ala., to Washington. They made it there a week before the March on Washington, found jobs making signs, and met and spoke with King for 20 minutes.
Avery had been active in the civil rights movement for months before the August march. An anti-segregation demonstration in his hometown turned violent and more than 450 people were arrested. He still bears the burn scars from a cattle prod.
A member of the Gadsden town council for nearly 30 years, he will speak at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 in the first-floor Roaden University Center Tech Pride Room.
The university’s Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center has several other events scheduled during Black History Month.
TTU will also host its annual Gospel Extravaganza at 2 p.m. Feb. 9 in the second-floor RUC multipurpose room. It is sponsored by Trinity Baptist Church and TTU’s Onmicron Phi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
At noon Feb. 11, the Black Cultural Center will host a screening of “Hidden Colors.” The 2011 documentary tells the story of people of color around the world and why they have been left out of history. The center is located on the second floor of the RUC.
That film’s sequel, “Hidden Colors 2,” will be screened at the same time and place on Feb. 18. This film goes into more depth and discusses social issues, from prisons to the economy.
The university will participate in the citywide IMPACT Honors Banquet at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 23 in the Leslie Town Center. The banquet honors African-American men who have made a significant difference in the community.
The Roaden University Center is at 1000 N. Dixie Ave. All events on campus are free and open to the public.