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Many universities --- including Penn State's Greater Allegheny Campus in McKeesport --- were closed today for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.
But instead of taking the holiday as a day off, about 90 students from the McKeesport campus and six other Penn State campuses in Beaver, Altoona, Behrend, DuBois, Fayette and New Kensington gathered in McKeesport, and then fanned out through the Pittsburgh area to volunteer at charities such as McKeesport Little Theatre, Auberle, Braddock Carnegie Library and Braddock Free Store, and for public spaces such as White Oak Park.
The event is a tradition that began eight years ago, in an effort to use Penn State Pride to give back to the community, a campus spokeswoman said.
To kick off the event, history instructor Johnathan White gave a keynote address to students before they headed out to their volunteer sites.
In addition to being a historian, White is a poet and artist whose research interests include Black popular culture in the 20th century, Black nationalist thought, the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement, the civil rights movement and the Black Power movement. He was our guest Sunday on "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes."
We asked: Why is volunteering an important way to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day? How does White connect King, who was assassinated in 1968, to his students, who likely have no personal memory of the civil rights movement?
How --- and why --- does King's message continue to resonate?
"Two Rivers, 30 Minutes" is heard Sundays at 7:30 a.m. on WEDO (810), 8 a.m. on WZUM (1550), and 3 p.m. on Internet radio station WMCK.FM, and is also available as a free podcast on Stitcher and iTunes.
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ADVERTISEMENT: Support for "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes" comes in part from the McKeesport Hospital Foundation. Since 1976, the foundation has addressed key concerns that affect our good health, as well as our education, social needs, recreation, and safety and security.
The foundation partners with UPMC McKeesport and other agencies to eliminate barriers to all services for all residents of the Mon Valley. Visit www.mckhospitalfoundation.com, or call (412) 664-2590.
Originally published January 18, 2016.