Trevecca students joined more than 400 students from the Nashville area on Jan. 18 serving the community as part of the annual Martin Luther King Joint Day of Service.
This was the ninth consecutive year Trevecca students participated in the event, which brings together students from several local colleges and universities, including Belmont University, Vanderbilt University, Fisk University, Tennessee State University and more. Sixteen Trevecca students took part in this year’s event, serving at sites around the city, including Feed the Children, Harvest Hands and Project Transformation.
Dani Neiderhiser, an AmeriCorps Social Justice VISTA member serving at Trevecca, helped coordinate the University’s participation in the event. Neiderhouser commended the student body’s readiness to serve.
“I’m just excited to see so many students eagerly participating. I’ve had so many emails from people begging to sign up…,” Neiderhiser said. “I have seen a passion from students here when it comes to equality and when it comes to helping people that are marginalized. I think the students here definitely have a passion and also a willingness to do whatever it takes.”
Students also had the opportunity to hear from Freedom Rider and activist Ernest “Rip” Patton on the importance of civil protest and community service. This year’s theme focused on the 60th anniversary of the Nashville Lunch Counter Sit-Ins and sought to highlight the courage of previous generations of college students who stood up for civil rights.
Members of Walden, Trevecca’s on-campus African American organization, also participated in the event.
“I wanted to honor the college students as well as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,” said Lea Bryant, the club’s vice president. Bryant emphasized that Walden’s work extends beyond the annual service day, outlining ways the club members seek to reach out into the community that surrounds the University.
“One of the things we plan on getting involved in is KidPower and working with Napier Elementary,” she said. “We’re still constantly trying to find new ways to create community and build relationships outside of Trevecca and within Trevecca.”
For Walden president Zoe Johnson, the day of service isn’t just about looking back. It’s also about moving forward into the future.
“The whole point of MLK Day is not just to remember MLK and everything he stood for but remember the efforts and attempts to bring racism to an end,” she said. “That way we know how far we’ve come.”