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Service to the Community

"Martin Luther King, Jr." by mattlemmon is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0."Martin Luther King, Jr." by mattlemmon is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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By Ariel Cochran 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than just a holiday for many students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham – it is an opportunity to champion inclusiveness and civic engagement, paralleling what King envisioned for a beloved community.

According to the King Center, Dr. King popularized the term “Beloved Community” coined by 20th-century philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce. Royce founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation with King being a member. For King, the Beloved Community is an achievable goal realized by “people committed to and trained in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence.”

As an annual day of service for UAB, MLK’s Beloved Community is scheduled for January 16, 2023. Starting at 10 a.m., the day of service will feature volunteer opportunities at nine sites around the Birmingham Metro area. Blazers will be joined by members of the Birmingham community as they lend a hand to help organizations in need. 

Lauren Cotant, associate director of Student Involvement and Leadership, explains how this year is special compared to previous days of service, “This is the first time we’ve been able to host MLK’s Beloved Community since the start of the pandemic in 2020. We’re excited to once again live out Dr. King’s legacy through acts of service.”

Leading the event is UAB’s Leadership and Service Council (LSC). Kamya Patel, executive director of the Leadership and Service Council, shares what students can expect, “[This event] is a lot different compared to our previously organized services like Into the Streets. A lot of the sites are going to be a little smaller, meaning it’s going to be more personable.”

Cotant adds, “Rather than gathering on campus for a kickoff event, volunteers report directly to their service sites. Some service sites provide transportation. This is a great opportunity for students without cars to still participate.”

UAB faculty and staff are encouraged to participate and register on Blazer Pulse. Faculty and staff bringing children must contact Lauren Cotant and complete a waiver.

“We highly urge our faculty, staff even visiting faculty and professors to come out and serve,” Patel says.

According to Cotant, volunteers will be treated to a Chick-Fil-A breakfast upon arrival.

Cotant says, “Dr. King had a global vision for a way forward, as a people, together free from poverty, hunger, homelessness, discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice. At UAB, we recognize our responsibility to contribute to the community, and Dr. King’s call to action aligns with our mission, values, and through this event among others, our actions.”

Slots are still available for Beloved Community participation. Students, faculty and staff can register for MLK’s Beloved Community using this BlazerPulse page.

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