In past years, Alternative Student Breaks and Auburn's Black Student Union would travel to Selma, Alabama, participating in many service projects within the city in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. At the end of the day, both groups would perform the symbolic march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which is the same bridge that King and other civil rights leaders marched across on March 7, 1965, a day remembered as “Bloody Sunday.”
“Several years ago, members from ASB and BSU came together on an activity to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy,” said Jailin Sanders, senior in industrial and systems engineering and BSU's president. “It shows what it means to be of service to your community.”
This year, the event was conducted in Auburn. ASB and BSU provided community service through a partnership with United Way, a community-aid oriented nonprofit. The groups met in the Student Center Ballroom for a two-hour event on Monday, Jan. 18. The event was limited to 50 in-person RSVP spots because of the University's COVID-19 policy.
“Unfortunately, this year [looked] very different than in past years,” Sanders said. “Nevertheless, we [were] still able to have MLK Day of Service this year in Auburn. [We had] a presentation, then a Q&A session while ending with our service aspect.”
This was the sixth time the event was hosted, but Sanders said the goal has been the same for ASB and BSU each year.
“The main goal of this event is to inspire people to recognize the impact that they can make on their community and the people in them by having a dream and the motivation to achieve it,” Sanders said. “Dr. King’s work and legacy is inspirational, hence the reason we take the day to commemorate them and be of service to our communities as he was to so many.”
The day of service included a short presentation on King’s impact on different parts of the South, featuring Bernard Lafayette, co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
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Sanders said he was most excited to hear Lafayette recount his experiences working alongside Dr. King as well as what social justice looked like in the 1950s and '60s. Sanders said it was a very unique component that past years may have not have been able to cultivate.
After Dr. Lafayette spoke, the floor was opened up to a question and answer forum. The event ended with attendees engaging in volunteer work to continue the event’s tradition of community service. BSU and ASB helped package 130 supply kits sent to United Way, providing supplies to individuals without toiletries and other essentials.
“My favorite part was listening to Dr. Lafayette's speech about his activism and experiences growing up,” said Kaiyah King, junior in graphic design and BSU’s vice president of marketing. “He’s so positive and was so enthusiastic to share his stories and passions with us.”
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