Jan. 19, 2021

UNT's third annual MLK Jr. Day of Service went virtual yesterday and featured Clint Smith, poet, author, educator and writer for The Atlantic. In his book How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America, due out this summer, Smith examines the legacy of slavery, how it's shaped our history and how its story is being told — or not told — through historic monuments and landmarks today.

“All of us every single day have to work to think about how we are complicit in or pushing back against systems that are oppressing people,” he said. “It's an ongoing process that will last for the rest of our lives. … We have to be the ones to create space to imagine what we want the world to be.”

As part of the service component of the Day of Service event, the UNT community is writing cards and letters of encouragement this week to residents of Denton County Friends of the Family, which provides services to people who are impacted by rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Virtual cards can be designed on Canva and emailed to leadandserve@unt.edu, or you can create physical cards and letters and drop them off at the Center for Leadership and Service in the University Union, Suite 345. The deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22.

Staff from Denton County Friends of the Family have provided some ideas for sentiments you might want to include:

  • You are a brave person to seek help for you and your family.
  • You are a good person.
  • What happened to you is not your fault.
  • You are not responsible for your abuser's behavior.
  • We will continue to help raise awareness about domestic violence.
  • Congratulations for taking back your power.

They also suggest a few things to keep in mind when writing your message:

  • Be authentic.
  • Be respectful.
  • If you are comfortable, share your story or journey.
  • Be encouraging.
  • Be positive.

In another Day of Service project, more than 80 snack, birthday and toiletry bags were donated to Minnie's Food Pantry in Plano. Read more about the organization's services and needs at minniesfoodpantry.org.