As the nation pauses to again reflect on the change-through-nonviolence message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., students, faculty and staff at Middle Tennessee State University will have an opportunity to embrace that message in a way that’s uniquely True Blue.
“I AM true BLUE” banners will be available at three separate locations on campus Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 21-23, for anyone to sign with a statement of why they are True Blue. The university’s Campus Non-Violence Committee is coordinating the effort, which follows Monday’s annual observance of the King national holiday.
Several student artists have painted versions of “I AM true BLUE” on the banners. As long as space is available to write, a banner will be available in the Student Union lobby from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Keathley University Center lobby from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the Recreation Center lobby from 4 to 7 p.m. all three days.
A commitment to nonviolence is one of four core values expressed in the True Blue Pledge, which is recited each year at MTSU’s Convocation Ceremony. A task force of faculty, staff and students developed the pledge in 2011 following the death of Lady Raider basketball player Tina Stewart.
Danny Kelley, assistant vice president for student affairs in the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, said the Campus Non-Violence Committee decided that the MLK holiday was an appropriate time to promote nonviolence since “(King’s) whole message was couched in addressing inequality through nonviolence.”
“I think it’s going to go over very well,” Kelley said of the banner signing. “We’re going to be encouraging whoever wants to participate to join in.”
Participants will receive an MTSU collectible button emblazoned with a peace sign. The popular button collection was created last year by the Office of Admissions as an incentive to increase student participation in campus activities.
James Lee, president of MTSU’s Student Government Association, has also been involved with planning the event, which he feels also honors the legacy of King, “an inspiration and a role model.”
“As unique and diverse as our campus is, I really want our students to participate. It will really show, as a community here at MTSU, that we are trying to better ourselves and strive for excellence,” Lee said.
“We’re encouraging students to really think about why they took on the True Blue Pledge during Convocation and what we all can do to make this a better society.”
Kelley said the plan is to sew the banners together, and, if approved by university administration, display it at a future home basketball game inside Murphy Center. The signing activity will also be videotaped in hopes of creating an “I AM true BLUE” public service announcement to be shown at future basketball games.
Jimmy Hart, MTSU News and Public Affairs