Soledad O'Brien speaks during ETSU's Civility WeekBy David Walter
East Tennessee State University held its annual civility event last week. “Civility Week” was sponsored and organized by the university, the Student Government Association, and the Diversity Events Committee. The theme of this week-long event was “My Story, Your Story, Our Story.” In recognition of individual differences, the theme gave students and the community the opportunity to hear the stories of people who may be different from themselves. Organizers described it as an opportunity for understanding on a personal level. It was also a venue for the campus to come together and appreciate the things that make people unique. Civility Week focused on various lectures, panels, and discussions on pertinent issues surrounding civility. The event also coincided with the official dedication of a new memorial fountain and historical marker on campus remembering the students who desegregated the university.
Civility is defined as a formal politeness or courtesy in behavior or speech. The Tomahawk focused last week on a series of articles discussing common ground with an emphasis on regional comparisons. This was directly correlated with civility, which typically involves the understanding, if not the acceptance, of people different from you. The university has strived to communicate the values of civility through Civility Week. East Tennessee State University went above and beyond the simple action of acknowledging the idea of civility as the events of the week propelled the notion that it is a concept that can be celebrated and bolstered by the active participation of the student population.
Kicking off Civility Week was keynote speaker Soledad O’Brien, Emmy Award winner and now former host of CNN’s morning show Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien. O’Brien is world renowned for her documentaries, specifically the Black in America and Latino in America series. O’Brien received her Emmy Award for Crisis in Haiti, in the category of Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story - Long Form. A great deal of her work has focused on people who need their story to be told. The Tomahawk had the chance to interview O’Brien before the event. “There is an opportunity to be a voice to stand up for something you believe in and that’s kind of my message,” said O’Brien. Starting Point aired its final broadcast last Friday, but O’Brien plans on continuing documentaries through Starfish Media, her new production and media distribution company. The company will continue to work with CNN, but also work with other related organizations.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.