For the 25th consecutive year, a stellar group of unsung heroes were honored at MTSU’s 2021 Unity Celebration, held virtually this year as part of the university’s annual Black History Month activities.
In this year’s renamed online recognition, which substitutes for the annual on-campus Unity Luncheon due to COVID-19, the five community honorees were applauded during a special online broadcast that aired Thursday, Feb. 11, on the university’s Facebook and YouTube channels and True Blue TV.
Video from the event is available above.
Each celebrated individual must be 60 years of age or older, have resided in the Middle Tennessee area for 25 years or more, and have made outstanding contributions to their community.
MTSU has recognized nearly 130 people since the program began.
Tony Strode, Black History Month Committee member and transfer enrollment coordinator, served as master of ceremony while Daniel Green, Black History Month Committee chairman and director of MTSU’s Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs, and Travis Strattion, assistant manager with the Scholars Academy, presented a special slideshow of the honorees. They are:
• Education — Sue Alexander, a telephone operator at MTSU, volunteer host at athletic events and church volunteer.
• Community Service — Violet D. Cox Wingo, an adjunct professor of social work at MTSU who has encouraged voter registration and civic involvement through her membership in the NAACP.
• Excellence in Sports — George Gibson, founder of the Above the Rim Gym, a nonprofit basketball academy for boys ages 7-17 which helps provide them with skills to prepare them for adulthood.
• Advocate of Civility — Christa Martin, the vice mayor of Columbia, Tennessee, and a volunteer in more than 15 civic organizations.
• Education — Kim Sokoya, associate dean of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business and creator of the college’s Flex MBA Program, which allows students to obtain master’s degrees in business administration entirely online.
Also honored with the university’s annual Unsung Staff Award was Danielle Rochelle, outreach coordinator for the MT One Stop and a member of MTSU Black History Month Committee.
An MTSU alumna, Rochelle coordinated a virtual “Campus Family Matters” information panel in partnership with the Office of Student Success.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee provided congratulatory remarks to the honorees and online audience, while Student Government Association President Chelseah Moore, a senior finance major, led the virtual audience in a recitation of the True Blue Pledge.
Sean “Mack” McDonald, a musician and junior audio production major from Augusta, Georgia, entertained with a rendition of “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” composed by Nina Simone and Weldon Irvine.
“The Black History Month Committee sincerely thanks the campus and wider community for joining us online for this special celebration,” Green said.
“And congratulations again to this year’s honorees for their ongoing service to the community and for setting a tremendous example for all of us to follow.”
For more information about MTSU’s Black History Month events, contact Green at 615-898-5812 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Gina K. Logue (email@example.com)