Friday, September 16, 2016

[096] Chinese teacher, philosopher Confucius focus of Sept. 21 celebration at MTSU

MURFREESBORO – MTSU will pay tribute to one of the most quoted philosophers of all time and one of the greatest influences in the history of eastern Asia.

The Center for Chinese Music and Culture will sponsor a Confucius Day Celebration at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, in Hinton Hall in the Wright Music Building. This event is free and open to the public. A printable campus parking map is available at

Mei Han, center director, says the program will feature a variety of traditional and contemporary Chinese instrumental music, including numbers from the period in which Confucius lived and fostered his philosophy. Among the instruments to be played is the qin (pronounced “shin”), a thin, flat-bodied instrument with seven strings.

“This is a scholar instrument, and many historical records suggest that Confucius himself played the instrument,” said Han.

In addition, the Nashville Chinese Cultural Club and Jen-Jen Lin and Roxanne Crew from the Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville will perform dance numbers.

MTSU alumna Taffy Xu will complement the evening of music, dance and poetry by reading Confucius’ own sayings in both English and Chinese.

After graduating in 2011, Xu studied in Hangzhou, China, for one year through MTSU’s Confucius Institute Hanban scholarship. She earned her master’s degree in 2015. She is now an associate instructor at English Language School in Nashville.

Confucius was born in 551 BCE (Before the Common Era) in what is now Shandong province in China. He is believed to be the country’s first teacher to advocate making education available to all citizens and to advocate the practice of teaching as a vocation.

After a brief political career, which he was forced to vacate because of his moral values, he went into exile for 12 years. However, his reputation and his number of students and followers grew. He died in 479 BCE at the age of 72.

Confucius Day is the 27th day of the eighth lunar month on the Chinese calendar. It is celebrated on different days in the month of September in several Asian nations.

For more information, contact the MTSU Center for Chinese Music and Culture at 615-898-5718 or

[095] ‘MTSU On the Record’ increases its word power with professor’s research

MURFREESBORO — The next “MTSU On the Record” radio program will stress the importance of expanding children’s vocabularies to help them become better readers.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Eric Oslund, an assistant professor of elementary and secondary education, will air at the program’s new times, 8 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, and 6 and 6:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, on WMOT-FM/Roots Radio 89.5 and

Oslund, who also works in the doctorate in literary studies program, co-authored the research published in the academic journal “Learning and Individual Difference” with four colleagues.

The study analyzed how vocabulary influences the reading comprehension of seventh- and eighth-graders who come from low-income families that qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.

“I think we need to dedicate resources that people from low SES (socioeconomic status) backgrounds may not have — programs that get books into their hands that cover a variety of topics and training parents or teaching parents on the importance of talking to their children, exposing them to as many words as possible,” said Oslund.

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, go to

For more information, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

[094] ‘You can’t build good will by visiting violence,’ activist Diane Nash tells MTSU audience

MURFREESBORO — Diane Nash is using her history-changing work for civil rights to advise and encourage those today who want to help America ensure freedom and justice for all.

"It was an interesting time and I'm glad I got to see it," the trailblazer for equality said Wednesday, Sept. 14, at MTSU’s Constitution Day celebration while discussing those frightening but uplifting days.

"I wish young people today could see their grandparents involved in that movement, with its discipline and strategy and courage. We were brilliant."

Nash, who helped integrate Nashville lunch counters with peaceful sit-ins in 1960 and desegregate bus travel with the Freedom Riders and ultimately aided passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, recalled the segregated Nashville of the 1950s and '60s, when she was a student at Fisk University.

The sight of black citizens sitting on downtown curbs, forced to eat their noon meals brought from home or bought from restaurants' side windows and back doors while their white co-workers dined in indoor comfort, both infuriated her and broke her heart.

"I found that dehumanizing and humiliating," the Chicago native said, noting that Fisk students were relatively insulated from racism on campus but faced it almost as soon as they stepped off the university grounds.

"It wasn’t even possible to go downtown with a girlfriend and window-shop and treat yourself to a quick lunch. I found segregation very limiting. … When I obeyed a segregation rule, I felt like I was agreeing that I was too inferior to other people to do what the rest of the public did. I found that intolerable.”

During the Sept. 14 MTSU event in Tucker Theatre, which included a post-lecture discussion led by public history doctoral student Torren Gatson, Nash told the full house that she “enthusiastically” supports efforts to bring justice and equality by groups that include the Black Lives Matter network. You can watch a brief video from the event at

She cautioned, however, that “there’s a difference in just protesting and in conducting a nonviolent campaign,” referring to the extensive training that she and other activists underwent in workshops with the Rev. James Lawson. Lawson, who visited MTSU last year for the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Voting Rights Act, studied and shared Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of civil resistance through nonviolence, self-discipline, truth, fearlessness, respect and economic strategies.

“I think they’re doing what they saw, which were the demonstrations and the marches,” Nash said of today’s activists working for change. “They did not see the workshops, where we were really trained in philosophy and strategy and really thinking through what we wanted to accomplish and what love is.

“They didn’t see the door-to-door canvassing to get the community involved. They didn’t see many of the educational meetings,” she continued. “We educated the community in civics and in government and the role of citizens in government. Demonstrating constituted about 20 percent of what we did.

“We were not just protesting. … Very often, the powers that be know you don’t like what they’re doing, but they’re determined to do it anyway. … You can’t build good will in a beloved community by visiting violence on someone. The unjust political system is the enemy, an unjust education system. Ignorance, racism, sexism, mental illness — those are the enemies.”

Nash’s talk was one of the highlights of the daylong celebration across campus in observation of the 229th anniversary of the Constitution’s signing.

Students, faculty, staff and visitors read the historic document at multiple sites across MTSU throughout the day, and voter registration tables were set up in busy locations to help citizens prepare for the Nov. 8 federal and state elections. Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Tracy Nelson, the blues-rock icon who fronted Mother Earth in the 1960s and ’70s and now sings across the country, also performed in the McWherter Learning Resources Center.

MTSU observes the Constitution’s 1787 signing every year with special events and programs organized by the university chapter of the American Democracy Project.

Tuesday, Oct. 11, is the final voter registration deadline in Tennessee to cast a ballot on Nov. 8.

For more information about American Democracy Project events at MTSU, email or visit