MLK Day of Service 2023

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Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s 2023 MLK Day of Service

By Rosey White, AmeriCorps Member, Black Warrior Riverkeeper

One group of volunteers gathering outside Rebirth Christian Fellowship with Katie Fagan, Outreach Coordinator, Black Warrior Riverkeeper.

“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are few people throughout history who inspire change like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did and continues to do. He fought against the many injustices faced by marginalized communities throughout the Civil Rights Movement. His legacy is one built on equality, courage, compassion, and service; and, he called on every person to do what they can to help create more equitable communities. In honor of his relentless fight for sustained systematic changes, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became the only nationally recognized day of service.

In our own call to action, Black Warrior Riverkeeper partnered with Birmingham City Council District 1 to clean up in Echo Highlands and the City of Center Point on Monday, January 16th. We met at Rebirth Christian Fellowship and dispersed all throughout the community.

Volunteers from UAB Minority Health & Health Equity Research Center Young Professionals Board (alongside Councilor Clinton P. Woods, at left) stand with some of the trash collected throughout the morning.

We had 93 volunteers come out Monday morning to serve alongside Councilor Clinton P. Woods of District 1. Our volunteers picked up 275 bags of trash for a total of 1,791.5 pounds. Among these volunteers, there were many groups who wanted to dedicate their morning to community service: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Altamont School, Buffalo Rock, Huffman High National Honors Society and Beta Club, Impact America, Rebirth Christian Fellowship Church, UAB Leadership and Service Council, UAB Minority Health and Health Equity Research Center Young Professionals Board, United Way of Central Alabama, Vulcan Materials, and YouthServe.

In addition to the significance of gathering a group of people who want to continue Dr. King’s legacy of service, Echo Highlands and Center Point are also home to Tarrant Spring Branch. This stream flows into Five Mile Creek which then flows into the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River and then the Black Warrior River itself. From there, it continues to move downstream to the Tombigbee River, then Mobile Bay, and finally the Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, the cleanup made a hugely positive impact both on our own watershed, the Black Warrior River watershed, and far downstream.

One pile of trash collected by volunteers on MLK Day.

Dr. King said, “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” The fight to end environmental injustices, such as the increase of pollution in marginalized communities, is a huge battle for one person or one community; but, if we all continue to do “small things in a great way,” we will have a major impact.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who joined us on Monday for a day of service, as well as all the other volunteers out there who are dedicating their time, talent, and treasure to make a positive difference in their community. The work of nonprofits like Black Warrior Riverkeeper would not be possible without your support.

If you are interested in becoming more involved with Black Warrior Riverkeeper, please visit blackwarriorriver.org/volunteer/ or contact Rosey White at [email protected]

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