As the country marks the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth, one of his descendants chose to focus on the future rather than the past during MTSU’s Black History Month celebration.
Kevin Douglass Greene, the great-great-grandson of the fabled abolitionist, was the keynote speaker at MTSU’s annual Unity Luncheon Feb. 15 in the Student Union Ballroom.
Greene encouraged the estimated 300 attendees, which included students, faculty, staff, alumni and university community neighbors, to make sure that young people go out into the world with more than just dreams.
They also need plans to make those dreams come true, the speaker said.
“I want to challenge each and every one of you to be tools in the plan for these young people to achieve their goals,” Greene said. “Challenge them, provide for them and create a world where people can unite and make for a better tomorrow.”
Greene, a U.S. Army veteran and a human resources specialist with the Veterans Administration for the past 10 years, took time to honor 20th-century African-American veterans who, he said, had to fight wars on two fronts.
“They had to go to foreign lands and fight battles so that others would be able to get out of oppression and racism within their own countries,” Greene said. “These same veterans would come back and some of the same people that they fought with under the same flag would not let them walk down the same side of the street or sit at the same lunch counter with them.”
The theme of this year’s MTSU’s Black History Month celebration is “African-Americans in Times of War: Current Day Warriors for Social Justice.”
While declining to focus on Frederick Douglass during his formal address, Greene did discuss Douglass and the rest of his family tree in an informal round-table conversation following the luncheon.
“I just happen to be a descendant of Frederick Douglass that’s carrying on his legacy by trying to provide some type of knowledge and encouragement so everyone can make this a better world,” Greene said.
A staple of Black History Month observances, the annual Unity Luncheon honors unsung heroes who have made their communities better places to live. This year’s honorees were:
• Raymond Bonner, the first African-American football player from MTSU to be drafted by the National Football League and a current member of the MTSU track and field coaching staff, recognized for his excellence in sports.
• John Harris, the first full-time director of Disabled Student Services at MTSU, recognized as an advocate for civility.
• Anthony McAdoo, co-founder of Murfreesboro’s first Habitat for Humanity ReStore and a former teacher with Journeys in Community Living, recognized for his years of community service.
• Mary R. Patterson Watkins, a board member for Generation for Creation and Kids Creativity Art and an accomplished artist and playwright, recognized for her contributions to African-American arts.
• Barbara Tuckson, former chair of the Southern Association Accreditation of Schools Committee and a retired teacher and principal, recognized for her lifetime in service to education.
In a surprise move, BreYhana Johnson, a Student Government Association senator, presented the inaugural Unsung Staff Award to Barbara Scales, director of MTSU’s June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students.
You can find more events on MTSU’s 2018 Black History Month calendar here.
— Gina K. Logue (firstname.lastname@example.org)