College of Coastal Georgia News
By Tiffany King
Every year on MLK Day, communities and college campuses across the United States honor the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with celebrations and volunteer work. The College of Coastal Georgia was still out for winter break on this year's official MLK Day, Jan. 15, but that didn't stop the College from celebrating the legacy of Dr. King with a week of events when students returned to campus.
The first week of the new semester was MLK Week, which kicked off with a screening of the movie "Detroit" at the Stembler Theatre. "Detroit" is set during the 1967 Detroit Riots and focuses on the incident at the Algiers Motel Annex.
About 60 students watched the movie and remained afterward for a discussion.
Brittany Garcia, coordinator of student engagement and intercultural programs, said she was impressed by how engaged students were in the film and the discussion.
"It was really nice to see that kind of engagement in the movie," Garcia said. "The students had a lot to say about it. Some students said they wished they had contributed to the success of the movie when it was in theaters."
During the discussion, students talked about the importance of learning our nation's history to avoid repeating its darkest events. They also discussed the importance of working together to make a difference, of understanding different points of view, recognizing injustice, and getting to know others better.
Celebration of Life
The second event in MLK Week was "Celebration of Life" with keynote speaker Campus Police Officer Christopher Moore as well as Melissa Wright, TRiO academic advisor/retention specialist, who sang "Change Me" by Tamela Mann.
Wright said she selected the song because she believed the lyrics went hand-in-hand with MLK's vision of changing the world; students who knew the song sang along.
Moore's speech touched on three main topics. He first talked about the past and how significant events such as the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery, and the passing and enforcement of the Jim Crow laws happened less than 150 years ago. Next he focused on the progress of African-Americans and mentioned notable figures such as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Brunswick's first African-American mayor Cornell Harvey. Moore then ended his speech emphasizing how much more progress still needs to be made.
Moore challenged African-American students to look at history and consider others who contributed to the progress of African-Americans.
"Look at the marches of Dr. King and you'll see not only Black and White people but Hispanic people, all nationalities," Moore said. "If we're going to embody the real dream of Dr. King, it will take all of us to look beyond the tunnel vision of just our race. It takes all of us to realize the dream of Dr. King, which was for all humanity to be united. We've come a long way and have a long way to go, and we will only get there if we do it together."
Moore believed it was important to speak to students because he wants the younger generation to know that older adults and many in law enforcement understand their current struggles. Moore said he's experienced racism and racial profiling, which he feels gives him an understanding of different points of view.
At the event, there was also a banner that read "My Dream Is..." Students had the opportunity to complete the sentence by writing down their own dreams on the banner.
The "Celebration of Life" event was a first for the College, Garcia said, and she expects it to grow in future years.
Serving the Community
Martin Luther King once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" CCGA Serves, a College of Coastal Georgia student organization, lives out King's vision by organizing volunteer opportunities in the communities. The group organized an MLK Day of Service, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Glynn County.
For the project, fifteen representatives from the College including students, staff, and College of Coastal Georgia Interim President Meg Amstutz gathered together on Jan. 27 to put the finishing touches on a Habitat for Humanity project located on Gordon Street.
Chad Lassiter, director of recreation and wellness, said CCGA Serves focuses on making an impact in the community. He said the Habitat for Humanity project commemorated the many things Martin Luther King Jr. stood for, such as equality, service to the community, and bringing people together.
Habitat for Humanity rebuilt the home that was condemned due to Hurricane Irma. Volunteers cleaned up the area, did some landscaping, helped install new appliances, and got the house ready for the family who will live there.
Garcia said the MLK Day of Service theme, "Make it a Day On, Not A Day Off," reflects both King's and CCGA Serves' commitment to community service.
"To honor Dr. King's legacy, we definitely wanted to give back to the community, especially the Brunswick community, through CCGA Serves," Garcia said. "It's about giving back and focusing on the platform of Martin Luther King."
This year marks the 50th anniversary of MLK's assassination, and Garcia and Lassiter wanted to do something special to honor King's life and legacy. The week of events was another first for the College, extending MLK Day activities beyond a single day. Because the first MLK Week was a success, Garcia expects to keep a similar format next year.