News & Stories
January 22, 2024

Be Love Week


University of Tennessee Vols cornerback Inky Johnson was destined for the NFL draft until a career-ending injury paralyzed his right arm.

He took that obstacle and transformed it into his life’s work.

Johnson’s speech at Berry College kicked off the college’s Be Love Week in collaboration with the King Center. Be Love Week included students and Berry faculty and staff volunteering at 15 sites in Rome.

Following his injury, Johnson has become a world-renowned motivational speaker and has presented for companies like Chick-fil-A, Coca-Cola and State Farm. He has authored “Inky: An Amazing Story of Faith and Perseverance” and received two Sports Emmy nominations for “SC Featured: Tragedy Didn’t Stop Vols’ Inky Johnson”.

He spoke on perseverance through obstacles and the importance of a support network.

“I never said I’m going to be great teammate unless I can’t make it to the NFL. I said I was going to be a great teammate. I never said to my grandmother I’m going to be the first one in my family to graduate college unless opposition shows up, unless my arm gets paralyzed. I never said that,” Johnson said. “I wanted to finish what I started.”

The week’s events concluded with a screening and panel discussion of “Black Barbie: A Documentary.” The screening was made possible through the “Through a Different Lens” documentary program, a collaboration between Berry and the Rome International Film Festival.

In addition, Berry joined the King Center’s Beloved Community Global Summit Jan. 10- 11. The Global Summit connected communities nationally and internationally as site locations tuned into virtual panels, interviews and videos centered around the theme “It Starts with Me: Shifting the Cultural Climate Through the Study and Practice of Kingian Nonviolence.”

Speakers included the Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King, of the King Center, Karin Ryan, of the Carter Center) and Grammy-nominated artist Mickey Guyton. Berry’s Chief Diversity and Belonging Officer Haley Smith spoke as a panelist in the session “Being a Cultural Climate Shifter in Education”.

Berry students appreciated the panels, including Shakarah Cummings, who attended a session on homelessness and learned how to make a difference.

 “They said, you need to know that you do have power, and you don’t need to sit in a specific seat or have a certain role to have that power. It really stuck out to me that regardless of what the issue is, you don’t have to see yourself as insignificant,” Cummings said.


Written by Public Relations Student Assistants Caroline Cleland and Elizabeth Chandler

Office of Public Relations

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