The university of North Alabama held its fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and March Jan. 21. Student Engagement and the Office of Diversity and Institutional Equity held the event and said it was "A Day On, Not A Day Off,” according to a press release.
The event began at 10 a.m. in the GUC Banquet Halls. Students, faculty, staff and the community were able to give back to their local food pantries. Numana, which is a non-profit organization, sponsored the event.
Numana focuses on providing meals for the hungry. Participants formed an assembly line and sealed plastic bags with a 30 cent meal. The meals consisted of rice, dried pinto beans and a mixture of other ingredients that aid the immune system for the malnourished.
A small group of volunteers typically feeds 1,600 people. UNA packaged around 35,000 meals and were able to exceed its goal of 30,000.
Martin Luther King Jr. believed in the power of serving others with humility. He reminded his followers they do not need to have high status or wealth to make a difference in the world, according to forbes.com.
“It helps us in continuing his legacy,” said junior Jasmine Culliver. “I just really enjoy helping packing different dinners. The last time I did it was internationally, but this time it’s going around to the Shoals area, moving to the food pantry here on campus. I just think that’s a really great idea.”
At 12:15 p.m., the event carried over to the GUC Atrium. President Kenneth Kitts gave a few remarks before the march.
“We have to tell the world who we are,” Kitts said. “As it relates to the purpose of this day, we have to tell the world who we want to be. I can’t think of a better way to tell the world who we want to be than honoring the memory of Dr. King.”
Afterwards, students and the community walked to UNA Baptist Campus Ministries, singing the gospel song “We Shall Overcome.”
“I think it is important that we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because it is a day of love,” said senior Rahsaun Fletcher. “You know, he was a man that stood for compassion, love, equality and peace. That’s what this day was about. It’s about bringing peace and harmony to the campus at UNA. I think that is important that we do celebrate that to not forget where we came from and if we forget where we came from, we don’t know where we’re going.”
The BCM provided participants with lunch and fellowship, encouraging everyone to meet and socialize with someone new.
“I honestly enjoy this day just for the unity aspect,” said senior Brady Owensby. “I’ve been at UNA for coming up on five years. I am an African American and I’m also white. I really enjoy seeing the community come together as a whole and all the students. I’m also a member of the football team.”
Owensby said seeing everyone come together as one, hanging out and enjoying a meal together is motivating.
“Overall, I feel like the event is very impactful,” said freshmen Gavin Weber. “It helps bring not only the community, but the nation together as a whole because you still see segregation in the world today, and there really is no need for any segregation because we all are just brothers and sisters in the eye of our Father. The fact that we have this one day and multiple other days throughout the year to come together as one and just revolutionize on the great words of Dr. King. It’s very impactful. It helps rejuvenate our nation and that’s a very blessing for a day.”