Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community: These are difficult days. At the same time, these difficult days represent an opportunity to demonstrate to each other and the world what it means to be and identify as a member of…
2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Welcomes Ebenezer Baptist Church’s Senior Pastor
The 2020 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration was held Sunday night in the Dome, featuring a keynote address by the Rev. Raphael Warnock. Warnock is the senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, the spiritual home of Dr. King. Spectrum News anchor Iris St. Meran served as master of ceremonies.
Held annually since 1985, the University’s celebration is the largest on-campus event in the United States to honor Dr. King’s legacy. Ashley Laird ’21, a student member of the 2020 Planning Team, said they intended for the celebration to be “a direct expression of their collective commitment to foster and support an inclusive and accessible campus community.”
In his keynote remarks to the more than 2,000 people in attendance, Warnock spoke about what he hears most around King’s birthday. “I often get asked around this time of year what Martin Luther King Jr. would be saying or doing in response to the great issues of our time,” Warnock said. “It is a question striking in its singularity because there’ve been many great personalities in the past to come our way.” Warnock said the reason people ask this question is because Martin Luther King Jr. “is the greatest American this country has ever produced.”
He exhorted the audience to come together in unity to fight bigotry and hate, saying, “Let’s not turn on each other, but turn toward each other.”
Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud discussed King’s visit to campus in 1965, saying our community would continue his legacy and “achieve our goals not through words but through disciplined action.”
Unsung Hero Awards were presented to local community members who make a positive impact in the lives of others, though their efforts may not be widely recognized. This year’s awards went to Keri Courtwright, Lemir Teron, Justine Hastings ’21, Pedro Abreu G’02 and Jack Ramza ’22.
The event also showcased a performance by Dominique’s Dance Creations. Syracuse University’s 2020 MLK Community Choir sang with gospel group Heaven’s Fire and the Black Celestial Choral Ensemble of Syracuse University.
View a photo gallery of special moments from this year’s Celebration.