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MLK event invites community to break bread, discuss leader’s legacy

Ashley Caradine, director of Multicultural Services at Carson-Newman, visits with students.

Two years had passed since the Carson-Newman community had gathered for an event celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The hiatus was due to both the COVID pandemic or inclement weather – the disruption ceased earlier this week as the annual celebration returned.

“I’ve been here since 2020,” said Ashley Caradine, who serves as director of C-N’s Multicultural Services, which sponsored the event. “Unfortunately, it seems like the first two MLK Days, it was either snowed out or really bad weather. This is the first time we’ve been able to do something in person. So, we were just really excited that we were able to get students together.”

Held in Stokely Memorial Cafeteria, the event brought faculty, staff and students together in conversation and fellowship. It was the kind of event that speaks to the core of C-N’s Multicultural Services, which is dedicated to ensuring students feel empowered in their God-given identities, compelled to be critical thinkers and ethical leaders in response to societal issues.

“We were excited to give students a chance to engage in conversation about social justice and faith,” said Caradine.

Those who gathered were first treated to a traditional Southern meal complete with chicken and mashed potatoes, something Caradine, a Memphis native, says is important. “When my office puts on an event, it makes it a point to break bread while we are having these conversations. “It’s the idea of feeding our neighbors and making sure everyone is taken care of before we dive into these discussions,” said Caradine.

Table topics allowed everyone to share and connect while talking about views of social justice. The event’s discussions delved into MLK’s legacy and addressed King’s bravery and his public reception early in his life compared to later in his life.

Caradine says she hopes students left motivated. “I hope students are inspired to put on their own events on things they are passionate about. That they gain momentum, get other students involved, and are able to express change they want to see, especially in a faith context – being able to combine social justice and faith.”

The Multicultural Services Office is already planning its next event, “What’s Next,” on Feb. 9. The event invites juniors with an ethnic minority background who want to learn more about post graduate education opportunities. The event will feature Javiette Samuel, assistant vice chancellor for Diversity and Engagement and director of Community Engagement and Outreach at the University of Tennessee.

The 5:30 p.m. event will be held in the Small Caf. Space is limited. Students can register at: https://form.jotform.com/230174728733054

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