Approximately 40 first-year Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholars at Saint Louis University participated in the second annual King Scholar Legacy Retreat in Memphis, Tenn., on Sept. 9 and 10.
The mission of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Program is to provide educational, social and services experiences that develop each King Scholars' potential to advocate for social justice on campus and in the larger community.
The retreat focused on leadership development, addressing social justice issues and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. The weekend began with team-building experiences, allowing the scholars to interact in small discussion groups.
Scholars had the opportunity to listen to a lecture given by Katrina Thompson, Ph.D., assistant professor of history and African-American studies, about the life and legacy of King.
The presentation focused on King's development as a scholar and activist during the American civil rights movement, as well as his personal history and commitment to the service of his community.
"Look around you," Thompson told the scholars. "All of you are here because of what Dr. King has done in his life. You are the legacy of Dr. King."
Following the discussion, scholars and retreat staff set out to see the sights of Memphis' famous Beale Street and eat at one of the local soul food restaurants.
The next day, Thompson led the scholars in a social justice leadership exercise in which four groups each chose a social justice issue to address and developed a plan for addressing that issue. The scholars were encouraged to consider financial and other factors that will affect how they are able to address their chosen social issue. Each group had the opportunity to present and answer questions about their plan.
The scholars then toured the National Civil Rights Museum, located in the Lorraine Motel where King was assassinated in 1968. The tour covered nearly 400 years of African-American history, beginning with the first Africans to come to the United States and culminating in the Poor People's Campaign, with which King was involved during the last few years of his life.
Throughout the year, freshmen scholarship recipients will participate in monthly gatherings, cultural programs and service opportunities.
The King Scholarship committee urged students to spend the remainder of their time at SLU focusing on servant leadership, inclusiveness and engagement with the St. Louis community.
To share and advertise service opportunities and experiences for King Scholars, please contact the Cross Cultural Center staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.