HPU’s Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Events Focus on Loving and Respecting Others

HPU students, faculty and staff hosted a day of service as ‘A Day On, Not Off’ across campus.


HIGH POINT, N.C., Jan. 18, 2021 – High Point University’s annual events honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. looked different this year due to the pandemic, but they continued to emphasize the importance of continuing his legacy. Students and community members participated in virtual activities to celebrate Dr. King, including HPU’s annual worship service and “A Day On, Not Off,” which focuses on completing community service projects.

Students and faculty helped pack seeds during the “Packaging Seeds to Share” event.

There were no classes on campus today so that students and faculty could participate in service projects and HPU’s Annual Martin Luther King. Jr. Worship Service.

“There is no better time to remind ourselves now – during a time that our country is going through challenges – that we must take a recess to reassess and remind ourselves of who we are,” said HPU President Dr. Nido Qubein during the service, which was held virtually this year due to the pandemic. “Every time I pass by Dr. King’s sculpture on this campus, I am reminded of his teachings and the importance of this day and what it stands for.”

HPU’s Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Worship Service

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Lee Walton, dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, served as the special speaker for HPU’s Annual Martin Luther King. Jr. Worship Service. While the service was streamed virtually this year, it continued to provide students, faculty and staff with an opportunity to worship and reflect on Dr. King’s life, sermons and teachings.

Walton’s messaged focused on “one love” and King’s emphasis on the importance of these two Biblical commandments: In order to love God, you must love all people with your heart, soul and mind even if you don’t agree with them; and you must love your neighbor as yourself.

“How can we profess that we love a god who we’ve never seen, and not profess to love people who we walk beside every day?” asked Walton.

Heather Simmons, HPU’s Teachers of Tomorrow president, and Avery Moon, an AmeriCorps VISTA, partnered to organize a “Technology for Schools Collection Drive” for High Point Schools Partnership. They’re collecting gently used technology and devices for area students and schools in need. Pictured from left to right are Simmons, Moon and Madelyn Mudd, a freshman and supporter of the drive.

Walton illustrated King’s teachings with a story from King’s life. One night, King and his brother, A.D., were driving from Montgomery to Chattanooga. On the way, some people intentionally shined their bright lights toward their vehicle, making it difficult for he and his brother to see. When A.D. said he was going to shine his bright lights, too, King said:

“You better not do that. For if you blind us and them, it will lead to death and destruction on this road. Somebody has to have some sense on this highway to dim the lights.”

“Fire cannot extinguish fire, nor hate with hate,” Walton concluded. “…Somebody has to dim the lights.”

HPU’s Annual “A Day On, Not Off” Service Projects

In 1994, Congress designated a federal holiday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service – “A Day On, Not a Day Off.” HPU has taken that charge to heart by leading hundreds of volunteers in service to the city of High Point and surrounding areas each year. Due to the pandemic, students organized various projects that happened throughout HPU’s campus.

Jenny Carpenter, an HPU AmeriCorps VISTA, organized “Packaging Seeds to Share” where volunteers packed vegetable seeds to donate to this year’s 7th annual Seeds to Share program, which shares free seeds with community and school gardens within Guilford County.

“It’s such an incredible opportunity to host this MLK Day of Service at HPU and to give back to our community,” said Carpenter. “These seeds will go to almost 100 community gardens in the area, which is an incredible amount of people that will have access to different foods. That is so important, especially during a pandemic.”

Seeds to Share is organized by N.C. Cooperative Extension Guilford County, Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers, and the Greater High Point Food Alliance Urban Agriculture working group.

“The seeds that High Point University students are packaging will grow into thousands of pounds of fresh food for our community,” said Quina Weber-Shirk, extension agent for community gardens with Guilford County Center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. “Each year, between 80 and 100 community and school gardens receive free seeds to grow for their families, for donation and for education. Community gardens are growing in our neighborhoods, libraries, parks and recreation centers, places of worship, community organizations, early childcare centers and schools.”

HPU’s newest “Pop-Up” wall features a famous quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and is placed behind the King sculpture on campus.

Heather Simmons, HPU’s Teachers of Tomorrow president, and Avery Moon, an AmeriCorps VISTA, partnered to organize a “Technology for Schools Collection Drive” for High Point Schools Partnership. They’re collecting gently used technology and devices for area students and schools in need.

Virtual events were offered, such as “Writing While Black” and “The Local and Global: A Conversation about Social Movements Around the World and at Home.”

“Dr. King’s legacy is synonymous with his ability as an orator,” said Douglas McCollum, an AmeriCorps VISTA and organizer of “Writing While Black” workshop. “His poetic stylings and biblical teachings inspire people even now. This workshop encompassed the written word, while providing a space for minority students to discuss their experiences. The Poetry Project has been a consistent partner with HPU, and I am grateful for their willingness to continue to teach and lead, particularly in the difficulties of this time in our lives.”

A historical sculpture of Dr. King resides on HPU’s Kester International Promenade. In recognition of today, a special backdrop and photo opportunity were added next to his sculpture featuring this quote: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”

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