Sekou Franklin is the keynote speaker for MTSU’s Unity Luncheon


On Feb. 10, Middle Tennessee State University will honor five “unsung heroes” of Middle Tennessee at the 26th annual Unity Luncheon (11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.).

The luncheon, which is part of the university’s Black History Month activities, will be held in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom, located at 1768 MTSU Blvd.

The theme of the event is “Where there is unity there is strength”. The keynote speaker is Sekou Franklin, Ph.D., professor of political science and international relations at MTSU. Franklin is also president of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists. .

A researcher and published author, Franklin’s latest book, “Losing Power: African Americans and Racial Polarization in Tennessee Politics,” was co-authored with Ray Block, Ph.D., associate professor of political science and African American studies. Americans at Penn State. University. Franklin is also the author of “After the Rebellion: Black Youth, Social Movement Activism, and the Post-Civil Rights Generation”. He also edited the “State of Blacks in Middle Tennessee”.

Unity Luncheon guests serve themselves by moving through the buffet at the event hosted at MTSU.

This year’s Unity Luncheon winners and their recognition categories include:

  • Elma McKnight, retired educator, Murfreesboro City Schools
  • Thomas Keith, MTSU alumnus, longtime volunteer track coach
  • Carl E. Watkins, retired Murfreesboro police captain, youth volunteer
  • Melbra Simmons, Media Office Coordinator, True Blue TV, and Committee Member, Tennessee Girls in STEM Conference
  • Robert Orr Jr., artist from Murfreesboro

Tickets are available online only until February 3. The cost is $20 for students and $35 for non-students. A table of eight is available for $280. Buy your tickets at

Traducir al Español: video translation

Students from Alan Campbell’s Spanish Translation Course worked on translating a training script for the YWCA’s Shear Haven Initiative, an online training program to teach cosmetologists to recognize signs of domestic violence.

Effective January 1, a new law passed by the Tennessee General Assembly requires applicants for natural hairdressing, esthetician, barber, esthetician, and manicurist licenses and certificates, as well as instructor licenses for barbers and cosmetologists, take the one hour course.

The students worked on the translation and the subtitles. By the end of the year, they hope to compete in audio dubbing with native Spanish speakers. The process can be difficult as some words and phrases are more difficult to translate than others.

“There are always certain slang terms or certain ‘isms’ in the English language that don’t really calculate into other languages,” said Lorna Hedges, a La Vergne native who double majored in Spanish and computer science.

It becomes even more difficult when it comes to observing the protocol for maintaining the speaker’s original meaning, thought, and intent.

Even with the challenges, the ability to use hair salons and beauty salons to tackle a major societal issue will be beneficial.

“A lot of women in my life have been victims of domestic violence,” said Jordan Marsh, a young animation student from Shelbyville. “It definitely touches my heart, knowing someone is going to see this (video).”

To learn more about the YWCA’s Shear Haven initiative, visit

Contact reporter Nancy DeGennaro at [email protected] Keep up with restaurant news by joining Good Eats in the ‘Boro (and beyond) on Facebook and follow Murfreesboro Eats on TikTok.


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