17th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is Jan. 19
17th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is Jan. 19January 08, 2002Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
Syracuse University and the Syracuse Region Martin Luther King Jr. Commission will present the 17th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, “The Debt: What We Owe the Dream,” on Jan. 19. The daylong celebration will feature music, dancing, dramatic presentations and appearances by internationally known human rights activist Randall Robinson, founder of the Washington, D.C.-based TransAfrica.
Robinson will appear at three events that will be held both in the Syracuse community and on the SU campus throughout the day. All of the events are free and open to the public. The events are:
? A program and reception hosted by the Syracuse Region Martin Luther King Jr. Commission at 11:30 a.m. at the Hopps Memorial CME Church, 1110 S. State St. In addition to Robinson’s presentation, the program will include interpretive dancing by a Vietnamese dance troupe, music and the presentation of the 2002 Martin Luther King Jr. Reflection Awards. This year’s recipients are the Rosamond Gifford Foundation and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance’s 10-Point Program to Reduce Juvenile Gun Violence.
? A seminar at 3 p.m. in Syracuse University’s Maxwell Auditorium during which Robinson will discuss his book, “The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks” (Dutton/Plume, 1999); and
? A gala evening celebration at SU’s Carrier Dome that will include music, a multimedia dramatic presentation, presentation of the 2002 Unsung Heroes and Heroines Awards and Robinson’s keynote address. The evening program will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The program will be preceded by a dinner at 5:30 p.m. Tickets for the dinner cost $20. For ticket information, call SU’s Hendricks Chapel at 443-5044.
“Randall Robinson has spent a lifetime keeping the King dream alive,” says SU’s MLK Committee Chair Bea Gonzalez, assistant dean in SU’s University College. “Mr. Robinson has incorporated Dr. King’s six principles of nonviolence into his work. He has exhibited courage, worked to correct injustice, endured personal hardship and through it all, changed U.S. foreign policy towards South Africa and Haiti.”
The celebration at the Carrier Dome, which is expected to draw more than 2,000 people, is among the largest university-sponsored MLK celebration events in the nation. Included in the celebration is the presentation of the Unsung Heroes and Heroines Awards to people who exemplify the spirit, life and teachings of King, but who are not widely recognized for their efforts. This year’s recipients are: Trey Hunter, a Corcoran High School senior; Maureen Klueber-Quigley of 425 Glenwood Ave., Syracuse; Twiggy Bilue, executive director of ACTS, Alliance of Communities of Faith Transforming Syracuse; Cora Thomas, WAER office manager; and the African American Male Congress, a student group at SU.
Robinson founded TransAfrica in 1977. The organization is dedicated to promoting progressive U.S. foreign policy positions towards Africa and the Caribbean. He continues to lead TransAfrica and its sister organization TransAfrica Forum, which was established in 1981 to provide educational programs about the two regions for print, radio and television media.
During the 1980s, TransAfrica spearheaded the campaign to have the U.S. government impose sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa. The campaign, which included civil disobedience and conventional lobbying tactics, ended successfully when the U.S. Congress passed the Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 over a veto by former President Ronald Reagan.
During the 1991-94 military regime in Haiti, TransAfrica lobbied on behalf of exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Robinson and the organization are credited with helping prompt a major shift in U.S. policy toward Haiti and U.S. treatment of Haitian refugees.
Robinson is an advocate for debt relief for the world’s poor countries. He has discussed American-Cuban relations with Fidel Castro and a group of African-American leaders, and works to alert Americans to the cause and implications of the nation’s burgeoning prison industrial complex.
He is the author of several books, including “The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks” (Dutton/Plume, 1999) and “Defending the Spirit: A Black Life in America” (Penguin, 1998). Robinson holds a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Union University and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School.
To meet the Unsung Here, click here.