By Jessica Pena
The Office of Student Life and Diversity hosted the annual Soul Food Luncheon Wednesday Feb.10, in the Mary Cole Nichols Carpeted Dining Room at Volunteer State Community College.
The Soul Food Luncheon is an hour of reflecting on history, the meaning of the soul food tradition and the culture that surrounds it.
The luncheon was decorated with balloons, wristbands, lollipops and history flashcards
and bookmarks at each table, commemorating those in African American culture in honor of Black History Month.
Attendance at the event was approximately 35-40 people, students and faculty both, filled the room.
Blake Coker, Student GovernmentAssociation Activities Chairman, welcomed the event as SGA Secretary of State Sandra Hunt introduced the main speaker.
Elizabeth Sanders, a senior at the University of Tennessee at Martin, was the keynote speaker of the event.
Sanders is a part of the Student Government Association at UT Martin as the Executive Assistant to the Vice President and was present at the luncheon to speak on role models and the chance for students to strive for more in their lives.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others.
“I don’t want to be a statistic. I want to be so much more and I know that I have the potential,” said Sanders on her accomplishments as an African American student.
Sanders challenged the audience to be that positive role model to influence someone’s life.
“Be that role model. You never know who is watching, even just around children.
We may not be in history books, but maybe someone you’ve influenced will be,” said Sanders.
Before lunch was served, Betty Williams spoke on the history of the Soul Food Luncheon and how these events of recognition have impacted the culture from what it used to be in the 60’s.
“The term ‘soul food’ became common in the 60’s, with the rise of the civil rights movement.
“We had so much less in the 60’s. Foods like green beans, white beans, collard greens and cornbread all became a sort of tradition to us then,” said WIlliams.
The menu for the event included soul food traditions such as corn bread, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, baked chicken, salad and cupcakes for dessert.
For the faculty readings portion, Edmon Thomas recited passages from the play “The River Niger”, written by African American playwright, Joseph A. Walker.
Accompanied by Vol State student Jacob Young on the piano, the audience rose to sing along to the poem-written song “Lift Every Voice And Sing”, an African American classic written by James Weldon Johnson.
Dr. Kenny E. Yarbrough, Director of Student Life and Diversity Initiatives, said the closing remarks for the event and the audience applauded as the event came to a close.