MTSU's 21st Annual Unity Luncheon Was Huge Success!

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MTSU's 21st Annual Unity Luncheon took place Thursday morning (2/16/2017) in the new Student Union Building's elegant ballroom. The keynote speaker was TBI Director and MTSU Alumnus Mark Gwyn.

In his luncheon address before a crowd of more than 300 attendees, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn struck a theme of "doing the right thing." The MTSU alumnus credited his family, some of whom were in attendance, in helping him become a productive citizen, starting with his career in law enforcement with the McMinnville Police Department.

"I've always been a firm believer that there's a lot more good people in this world than there are bad," said Gwyn. "It's just (that) my calling is to protect those good people."


Gwyn is on his third term as TBI director. For the past 13 years, he has been the only African-American director of a state bureau of investigation in the nation.

"For me, it's a sense of pride, but it's a sense of obligation," said Gwyn. "I've got to represent a little better, and I'm OK with that ... I don't do it because I'm African-American. I do it because it's the right thing to do."


Each year the luncheon honors unsung leaders who have made outstanding contributions in the areas of education, community service, civility advocacy, sports and black arts.

2017 Honorees

  • Bichaka Fayissa, a native of Ethiopia, Department of Economics and Finance professor, MTSU -- education.
  • Navita Gunter of Guthrie, Kentucky, founder, Cervical Cancer Coalition of Tennessee -- community service.
  • Jacqueline Jackson of Lexington, Kentucky, retired Department of English professor, MTSU -- education.
  • Evelyn James of Murfreesboro, retired nursery school teacher, member of Ardent Workers of First Baptist Church, Murfreesboro -- education.
  • Carl Marable of Murfreesboro, director, Second Chance Outreach Ministries -- community service.
  • Ernest Newsom of Murfreesboro, clarinetist and psychologist -- contribution to black arts.
  • Albert Richardson Jr. of Murfreesboro, community volunteer and humanitarian -- community service.
  • Revonda J. Rucker of Murfreesboro, registered nurse and funeral director -- community service.
  • James Douglas Watkins of Murfreesboro, former community school director and athletic mentor in Flint, Michigan -- excellence in sports.
  • Martha Womack of Murfreesboro, community volunteer and humanitarian -- community service.
  • Vernon Young of Smyrna, Tennessee, retired law enforcement officer, Smyrna Police Department -- civility advocacy.
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21st Unity Luncheon, Mark Gwyn, MTSU, WGNS
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