Journalists Charles Blow, Rick Williams lead Rowan MLK Day scholarship breakfast

Journalists Charles Blow, Rick Williams lead Rowan MLK Day scholarship breakfast

The New York Times' Charles Blow, left, interviewed by Action News anchor Rick Williams

Charles M. Blow, a New York Times columnist, author and MSNBC political analyst, and 6ABC Action News anchor Rick Williams shared the stage during Rowan University’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast and Day of Service Jan. 15.

The veteran journalists, speaking before hundreds of attendees at Rowan’s 38th annual MLK Day program, discussed race in America, the importance of voting in this year’s presidential election, and Dr. King’s legacy.

Blow said he grew up in the deep South, a fervent admirer of Dr. King.

“When I was a kid I had his poster on my wall,” Blow said. “I looked up to him the way other kids looked up to sports figures and pop stars.”

Williams served as master of ceremonies for the program, his fourth year in that role.

Interviewing Blow on stage, Williams expressed concern over a perceived lack of enthusiasm among young voters to participate in this year’s election, an expected rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Without naming either presumed candidate, Blow said staying home and withholding one’s vote is almost as bad as voting for the candidate that does not represent one’s interests.

“If you don’t vote for the person who will do the least damage, you’re likely to get the person who will do the most,” he said.

In the service of others

Co-sponsored by Rowan’s Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and the Rowan University Foundation, the annual MLK Day program raised funds for high achieving students with demonstrated financial need through William H. Myers Scholarship Program.

In addition to serving as an important fundraiser, the program featured a range of volunteer service options for attendees within the Chamberlain Student Center, where the breakfast took place.

In opening remarks, President Ali Houshmand said service to others is a hallmark of a Rowan education and that, through organized efforts to help others, students often develop a lifelong habit of working and giving of themselves for the greater good.

“Whether it's through acts of kindness or volunteerism, service is the cornerstone of a compassionate world,” Houshmand said.

Citing just a few examples from the past year, Houshmand said students have given blood, raised crops, even donated meal card swipes to other students.

“We know that introducing students to a life of service has far reaching benefits—for them as people, their fellow students and countless families throughout the region in need,” Houshmand said.

Serving across campuses

As Houshmand noted, MLK Day is the only federal holiday that is considered a National Day of Service, and Rowan students, faculty and staff celebrated the holiday and gave of their time and energy across the University.

Following the breakfast, more than 150 students, employees and visitors took part in a series of service activities, from crafting placemats and preparing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for clients of Cathedral Kitchen in Camden to making T-shirt dog toys for animal shelters and crocheting baby blankets for area hospitals.

Taleen Hamad, a freshman biological sciences major, volunteered to crochet baby blankets from bales of thick, colorful yarn.

“It’s a very good Day of Service project,” she said. “The blankets are for premature babies and babies with cancer, and we have 16 going at once.”

At CMSRU, medical students engaged in a variety of activities with local leaders, community groups, churches and schools to make a positive impact on the City of Camden, where the school is located.

Said Dean Annette C. Reboli, “service to the community is a cornerstone of CMSRU's mission and an integral part of our culture.”