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Black Student Association honors Dr. King

Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 13:02


University Relations

Gabrielle May Lewis (right), a senior communications major from Jackson, received one of two Dare to Dream Awards, sponsored by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, at the inaugural Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration and Breakfast on Jan. 21.

MLK Dinner2

University Relations

The University of Tennessee at Martin’s Black Student Association (BSA) presented David Belote (right), assistant vice chancellor of student affairs at UT Martin, with the Torch Award at the inaugural Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration and Breakfast on Jan. 21.

MLK Dinner3

University Relations

Rev. Harold Conner (seated left), pastor of the Fuller Street Baptist Church in Dresden, was presented with the Harold Conner/City of Martin Award, named in his honor, at the inaugural Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration and Breakfast on Jan. 21. Mayor Randy Brundige (standing) presented the award


The Black Student Association hosted their first Martin Luther King breakfast on Monday Jan. 21.

Annie Jones, advisor of BSA and director of Minority Affairs, wanted to see something done on campus that could be done for years to come, in efforts to commemorate the life of Dr. King.

“With the help of David Belote, we began to have meetings at the city hall with Mayor Randy Brundige of Martin TN,” said Bryce Holmes, BSA Treasurer.

After weeks of planning and funding from the City of Martin, the date, time and place were finalized.

This year’s theme was “Dream With A Vision, Live With A Purpose.” The breakfast was held in the University Center Ball Room.

“This year’s event was done by invitation only. We really weren’t sure if people would respond in attendance, because it was being held on MLK day. It proved to be very successful. We had 100+ people in attendance,” said Holmes.

Mayor Brundige presented the Harold Conner/City of Martin Award to Rev. Harold Conner, pastor of the Fuller Street Baptist Church in Dresden. Conner was the first black administrator to be employed by the university after its desegregation in 1969. He served the university first, as assistant dean of students and then as assistant vice chancellor for student affairs. He also played a key role in the formation of many campus organizations and programs that still influence the campus and its students today, including the Black Student Association, Freshman Studies, the Highest Praise Gospel Choir and the Peer Enabler Program (PEP). Conner retired from the university in 1981 and is the first recipient of the award.

Laquita Johnson and Pastor Alvin Summers of Oak Grove Ministries, Martin TN, were the keynote speakers at the event.

“Laquita related the topic to us being accountable to knowing who we are. Even if we had rough child hoods with unstable environments, we could not use our past as a crutch or as an excuse not to move on. She told us we could succeed,” said Holmes.

“Pastor Summers told us that Dr. King wasn’t just addressing the black community in his speech, but he was addressing everyone as a whole. That’s how Dr. King viewed the issues. It was issues as a nation,” Holmes continued.

BSA is not an organization for minority students only, but it’s an organization for all races. Its purpose is to give students, who aren’t apart of Greek life, an opportunity to a part of something here on campus. It gives them an opportunity to voice their opinions. BSA believes in strong dedication to the campus and community through community service.

 “I wish we all could come together, black and white, settle our differences and work as one. I realize that racism is still out there, but it’s not as extreme as it was in the past. Dr. King had a vision that we all could come together as one, I believe in the dream and I believe we can,” said Holmes.

Any day that will commemorate equality is a day that we all should embrace. We should also remember the Caucasians who risked their lives as well, for the cause of equality. Truly any fight in the efforts of fairness and impartiality should never go unrecognized.We applaud Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and those who are determined to keep the dream alive.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said.

For more information on becoming a member of the BSA organization, contact Annie jones at

Upcoming events: Night of Dance, February 7 @ 7 p.m. in Watkins Auditorium. Admission is free.

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