UT students honor Martin Luther King Jr. with day of service

University of Tennessee students spent their Saturday in Odd Fellow Cemetery, honoring the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. through a day of service.

University of Tennessee students spent their Saturday in Odd Fellow Cemetery, honoring the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

Over 30 students came to help clean up the cemetery. They picked up trash, cleaned off head stones and helped rebuild the walking path.

"It commemorates someone who dedicated their life to make a social difference and to commit change." UT senior Katie Wright said. "By getting out in the community today, it's just kind of allowing us to do the same in a way that we're capable of doing."

Even though it was a day meant for service, the students got to learn a bit about the cemetery’s history, too.

Odd Fellow Cemetery is a historic African American cemetery, founded around 1880. The Knoxville ReAnimation Coalition began revitalizing it back in 2011.

Stephen Scruggs, the founder of the coalition, grew up just down the block. He didn’t learn about the cemetery’s history until later in life. Among those that are buried there are African American pioneers who were involved in the early history of Knoxville, and 32 black Civil War Veterans.

"There are countless people who were buried here whose memory has been lost and is in danger of being forgotten," Scruggs said.

While the students helped to restore the cemetery, they had a chance to reflect on its history and those that live nearby.

"We can help the people of this local community feel proud of what they have to offer and make sure that the people who are buried here in this cemetery, it lives up to their name," Wright said.

The Knoxville ReAnimation Coalition said the cemetery has come a long way since they first started restoring the cemetery. They continue to look for volunteers to help them with their work.

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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