Descendant of Frederick Douglass speaks at MTSU Unity lunch

Nancy De Gennaro, The Daily News Journal, February 15, 2018

Kevin Douglass Greene, great-great-grandson of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, encouraged the community to help youth turn dreams into goals at Middle Tennessee State University’s Unity Luncheon on Thursday.

Kevin Douglass Greene, descendant of former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, addresses MTSU’s 2018 Unity Luncheon Feb. 15 in the Student Union Ballroom. (Photo: Andy Heidt)

“We encourage them to dream. We need to provide the tools for them to plan. Don’t tell them to dream and then (tell them to) go on out there and figure out how you’re going to do it. … A dream is just a dream until you put plans in place to reach goals,” Greene said. “It’s our responsibility as adults and educators and public servants … to provide those tools.”

Greene, a human resources specialist with the Veterans Administration for the past 10 years and a U.S. Army veteran, served as keynote speaker at the 22nd annual luncheon that drew around 300 guests.

“Challenge them, provide for them and create a world where people can unite and make for a better tomorrow,” said Green, who discussed his family heritage in an informal roundtable conversation following the luncheon.

In addition to celebrating Black History Month, the luncheon recognizes unsung heroes who have made the community “a better place to live,” MTSU President Sidney McPhee told the crowd.

“The name of this luncheon is very apropos in this environment in which we are living in the 21st century in America … unity bringing people together, respecting differences and acknowledging achievement. This is what MTSU is all about,” McPhee said.

The theme of this year’s MTSU’s Black History Month celebration is “African-Americans in Times of War: Current Day Warriors for Social Justice.”

Honorees this year include:

• John Harris, the first full-time director of Disabled Student Services at MTSU, recognized as an advocate for civility.

• Mary R. Patterson Watkins, a board member for Generation for Creation and Kids Creativity Art and accomplished artist and playwright, recognized for her contributions to African-American arts.

• Barbara Tuckson, former chair of the Southern Association Accreditation of Schools Committee and retired teacher and principal, recognized for her lifetime in service to education.

• Raymond Bonner, first African-American from MTSU to be drafted by the National Football League and current member of the MTSU track and field coaching staff, recognized for his excellence in sports.

• Anthony McAdoo, co-founder of Murfreesboro’s first Habitat for Humanity ReStore and former teacher with Journeys in Community Living, recognized for his years of community service

A new award was added to the luncheon this year. Barbara Scales, director of MTSU’s June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, was awarded the inaugural Unsung Staff Award.

To learn about future events on MTSU’s Black History Month calendar, visit

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