On Saturday, Jan.18, the Blount County Public Library hosted their fourth annual MLK Kids and Family Fair from 1-3 p.m. The fair was focused on providing children and their families with activities that centered around MLK’s life and the qualities he possessed such as hope, peace and community.
The Maryville College Theatre Department participated in the event by having student volunteers help children and community members design pieces of a paper unity quilt. People designing squares were asked to draw or write something that made them feel happy or peaceful. The pieces were woven together by pipe cleaners and set aside to display in the children’s section of the library.
The MC Theatre Department also provided student volunteers, junior Theatre major Diamond Cronan and junior English with teaching licensure major Loren Vickers, to read selected books about Martin Luther King in the Children’s library including “Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King” by Jean Marzollo and “Be a King” by Carole Boston Weatherford.
Blount County United volunteer Kim Petryn reads a book from their selection.
Photo taken by Eliza Komisar
“It was my first ever time working that event, and I loved it,” Vickers said. “My favorite part was the paper quilt and reading what the kids wrote. They’re so sweet and honest that it made my heart so happy to see them celebrating a leader like MLK.”
Another group at the event was the Blount County chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). This national organization, according to their website, is focused on “working to undermine white supremacy and to work toward racial justice.” The Blount County chapter has been around for six years and works with other groups present at the fair like Blount County United.
Blount County United was formed by Rev. Dr. Willa Estell, the pastor of St. Paul A.M.E Zion Church in Maryville. Blount County United had a table with books for kids that highlight diversity. Katy Chiles, a volunteer for the education committee of Blount County United brought her son’s book to the fair.
“We are bringing books and trying to get kids interested in reading books about minority groups,” Chiles said. “It’s a group that does a lot of racial justice programming … we’ve done things at Maryville College before. There are four different committees: faith, education, youth and civic.”
Children were allowed to read the books while at the library and fill out a book review sheet about what they did or did not like. Chiles personal favorite of the collection is “Martin’s Big Words” by Doreen Rappaport.
Other groups present were the Census Bureau, providing information and job opportunities for residents of Blount County, John Sevier Elementary, Maryville College’s American Sign Language society, Sigma Lambda Kappa and Premier Martial Arts.