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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Day of Service kicks off UF’s MLK celebration week

For some students, Monday — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — is nothing more than a day off from classes, but for Keenen Vernon, it’s much more than that.

Vernon, an 18-year-old health science freshman at UF, is an event leader for one of the 10 events that will take place during the Day of Service, which kicks off UF’s weeklong celebration in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Vernon was in charge of recruiting volunteers for his event, Kids Count, at Faith United Methodist Church.

“Young and old people are coming from all over Gainesville,” he said.

The Day of Service starts at 8 a.m.

It encourages students to reflect on King’s values while making an impact in the world around them.

UF’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week is in its sixth year of existence as a campus-wide committee, said UF’s Director of Intercultural Engagement Jarrod Cruz.

Cruz said the event is based on seven values: courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service.

UF’s campus community provides an opportunity for students to get outside their comfort zones and break down stereotypes and views, he said.

The goal, Cruz said, is to “create change on campus … even when we leave UF.”

The celebration’s signature events include the Day of Service, Ain’t I a Woman!, a candlelight vigil and a speech from the keynote speaker, author Michael Eric Dyson.

One of the celebration’s new events is Channeling Your Inner Rosa Parks: Women’s Activism Then and Now.

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Cruz said the Women’s Student Association hopes to empower women and raise awareness through this event.

Vernon, along with all the volunteers he recruited, waits in anticipation to kick off the celebration.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve never experienced that in my life before.”

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