Dear Students and Families: The first day of classes is now less than 40 days away. We are all excited by the prospect of a return to an academic and student experience that resembles our pre-pandemic campus environment. A critical…
Power to the People: Two-Day Commemoration to Honor Life and Legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Honoring the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is engrained in the identity of Syracuse University and continues on Sunday, April 15, and Monday, April 16. Events of the two-day commemoration, “Power to the People,” aim to engage the campus community in moving forward the legacy of King and the Freedom Rights Movement at Syracuse University.
“These two days of solemn and important events provide an opportunity for our campus community to continue to honor Dr. King’s life and legacy following the recent 50th anniversary of his death. We invite students, faculty, staff and community members to join us in learning about his teachings and powerful messages of peace, freedom, equality and equity, so that we can all continue to advance his vision of a just, inclusive society,” says James K. Duah-Agyeman, chair of the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience (ESE) Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council and one of the event’s organizers.
The events begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 15, in the Noble Room in Hendricks Chapel. Earlier this semester, Hendricks Chapel and the Office of Health Promotion launched SoulTalk Dinners. A free dinner accompanied by casual, small-group conversations, on April 15, the SoulTalk will focus on the legacy and influence of King and the Freedom Rights Movement. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be available.
Following SoulTalk, all are invited for the Dean’s Convocation in the main chapel of Hendricks Chapel, a weekly gathering at 7 p.m. on Sundays. The Dean’s Convocation is intended to be a place for all people, featuring music and reflection from a diversity of religious, spiritual and philosophical perspectives. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination, the April 15 Dean’s Convocation will feature a keynote conversation with Herb Ruffin, associate professor of history and chair of African American Studies; Biko Mandela Gray, assistant professor in the Department of Religion; and Sadia Ahmed ’21, all from the College of Arts and Sciences. At the event, attendees will be encouraged to reflect on the solemnity of the event and impact of King and the Freedom Rights Movement. ASL interpretation will be available.
The evening will close out at 8 p.m. with a Candlelight Vigil on the steps of Hendricks Chapel. As all gather outside with candles in solidarity, Keith Alford, chair of Falk College’s School of Social Work; Terra Peckskamp, director of the Office of Residence Life; and Jalen Nash ’20 in the College of Arts and Sciences, will share brief reflections. ASL interpretation will be available.
The commemoration continues on Monday, April 16, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in 231 Sims Hall. Throughout the day, from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., the campus community is invited to the library for a special display to honor King. Throughout the day, King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech will play in the library, with space for reflection for visitors. This speech was given by King on April 3, 1968, the day before he was assassinated. Other speeches and displays, including a letter from King, will be available for visitors to access. Timelines of the Civil Rights Movement and King’s work will be available for visitors to have.
This event is sponsored by the ESE Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, Hendricks Chapel, School of Social Work, Department of African American Studies, Syracuse University Council on Diversity and Inclusion, SU Libraries, Residence Hall Association and the ESE Student Advisory Council.
These events follow the plaque dedication ceremony that was held on Wednesday, April 4, where a plaque honoring King was unveiled adjacent to the site where he spoke on campus in 1965. That visit in 1965 to campus was King’s second, his first coming in 1961. The plaque commemorates that July 15, 1965, visit and affirms Syracuse University’s commitment to foster and support a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus community. Recently, an audio recording of King’s 1965 SU speech was located in the University Archives. To hear the full audio, go to mlk.syr.edu. The plaque is located in the Shaffer Art Building outside the entrance to the SU Art Galleries.
About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private, international research university with distinctive academics, diversely unique offerings and an undeniable spirit. Located in the geographic heart of New York State, with a global footprint, and nearly 150 years of history, Syracuse University offers a quintessential college experience. The scope of Syracuse University is a testament to its strengths: a pioneering history dating back to 1870; a choice of more than 200 majors and 100 minors offered through 13 schools and colleges; nearly 15,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students; more than a quarter of a million alumni in 160 countries; and a student population from all 50 U.S. states and 123 countries. For more information, please visit www.syracuse.edu.