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Pieces of Eight


Lecture, Volunteerism Highlight MLK Day

By Erica Plouffe Lazure

The daughter of famed South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited Greenville in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Naomi Tutu spoke Jan. 11 at East Carolina University’s Mendenhall Student Center and urged students to continue to utilize truth as a way to heal the nation.


“Tell the truth of slavery. Tell the truth of race and racism today. Tell the truth of dispossession of the Native Americans,” Tutu said. “If you don’t do it, you’ll never fully heal from the exploitation. You’ll never fully learn, and you’ll never fully move forward.”

David Dennard, ECU professor of history and MLK committee chair, said that Naomi Tutu’s personal history offers her a unique perspective in addressing racial and human rights issues.

“Ms. Tutu has perceptive insight into the international dimensions of racial oppression, forgiveness and healing, and will challenge us, in ways not unlike her father’s generation, to deepen and continue our search for racial justice and common ground,” Dennard said. “Hers is a voice that this generation of students, regardless of their color, should hear, need to hear, and must remember as they reflect on the meaning and legacy of Dr. King in 2006.”

In addition to the Tutu lecture, MLK activities continued on the observed holiday, Jan. 16. Dozens of students participated in a daylong volunteerism effort, organized by ECU’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center. Volunteer venues included: the Boys and Girls Club, Creating Cheer, Hope Lodge and the Marley Fund. Later that evening, hundreds of students, faculty and community members participated in a candlelight vigil and march at College Hill in honor of Dr. King.

It was followed by a musical performance by ECU professors Louise Toppin and Gerald Knight, and Gregory Thompson of Johnson C. Smith University, followed by selections from the ECU Gospel Choir, the choir from the Immanuel Baptist Church and ECU choral students.

MLK day
ECU students, staff and faculty gathered for the Jan. 16 candlelight vigil and march in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Pictured above, SGA President Cole Jones speaks to the crowd. (Photo by Marc J. Kawanishi)
This page originally appeared in the Feb. 3, 2006 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at