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University celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.

Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 21:01

The East Tennessee State University Office of Multicultural Affairs celebrated the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Tuesday with a reading of King’s “I have a dream” speech and a talk given by one of the university’s first African-American students.

Tracy Haynes, a resident of Elizabethton, recited King’s speech, and George Nichols spoke about the experience of being one of the first African-American students at ETSU.

Nichols started his speech by enlightening the audience about what Johnson City was like when it was segregated.  He described the madness of segregation and the hardships that many African Americans faced in East Tennessee.

Nichols spoke on the isolation and subtle, but not outright, racism that he faced when he attended ETSU. He also said that the university’s ROTC program pushed him to succeed and push through the hardships.

Mr. Nichols said that his time spent in the university’s ROTC program and in the military gave him the tools that he needed in order to succeed in corporate America. He wrapped up his speech with how he believed King would view America today and touched on a number of subjects through this including the voting act, the treatment of the poor and the American education system.

“Don’t settle for mediocrity,” he said. “Strive to be the best. Never settle for anything less.”

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