University of Rochester

Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

MLK Tribute HONORING DR. KING--The Rev. Alvin Parris '73E (above) will read Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech in its entirety, joined by a dozen percussionists and five string players on January 16 in Kilbourn Hall at noon in a repeat performance of last year's tribute. The work, entitled Let Freedom Ring II, was written by graduate student Colin Tribby, who will direct the performance, and Justin Poindexter, a composition student from the North Carolina School of the Arts. It will be conducted by graduate student Nathaniel Motta. The concert also will feature Eastman baritone Carl Du Pont '06, the current William Warfield Scholarship recipient, performing songs to celebrate King's legacy.

For a closer look at this and other events planned in the coming weeks in honor of King, visit

Community outreach, talk part of MLK tribute

A live reading of Martin Luther King Jr.'s rousing 1963 speech "I Have a Dream" at the Eastman School Monday, January 16, kicks off a series of events at the University celebrating King's birthday and honoring the civil rights leader's legacy. The two-week tribute is capped by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address delivered by the son of the late civil rights leader at 6 p.m. Friday, January 27, in Strong Auditorium. A human rights advocate and community activist, Martin Luther King III will discuss continuing his father's work in "My Father's Dream, My Mission." The talk is free and open to the public.

Other events scheduled include a screening of a portion of the civil rights documentary Eyes on the Prize, a talk about racial inequalities in health care, a multifaith service, a charity basketball tournament, a student forum on diversity issues affecting campus, an essay contest for undergraduate students relating King's 1963 "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" as well as community service efforts in the Rochester City School District by students from the College.

Norm Burnett, who chairs the College Diversity Roundtable and is director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs, says King's birthday on January 16 serves as an anchor for ongoing related events. While commemorations in previous years have included a range of activities, this year was the first time individual organizers, sponsors, and student groups collaborated closely to coordinate and promote programs in a unified way.

"Students played an important role in setting the tone for the planning process and for the events themselves. It's so exciting to the see the results of that effort reflected in the scope and quality of this year's programs."

Student involvement this year also takes the form of community service. Four dance performance groups will visit the Charles T. Lunsford School (No. 19) January 24 and perform for third through sixth graders. The program, called "Power of Dance," will feature the College's Afro-Expressions, the Ballet Performance Group, UR Hip Hop, and Yosakoi. Student performers will discuss how art forms such as dance can be a way to celebrate diversity and enhance educational pursuits. To help the groups prepare for the presentation, Natalie Rogers-Cooper, school administrator for the world-renowned Garth Fagan Dance, will meet with students January 21 and hold a followup session January 28 to discuss additional ways to engage area youth in arts and cultural programming.

The outreach effort is sponsored in part by the Rochester Center for Community Leadership in the College, a center established in January as part of the College Dean of Students Office to help connect students to the community and to encourage them to become engaged citizens during their college years and in the future. The event kicks off Project CARE, an initiative that grew from last year's commemorations honoring King.

"The students who participated last year expressed a desire to develop a more formal program that would allow them to maintain relationships with local schools throughout the year," says Bryan Rotach '03, a coordinator for the center. "In that way, this is very different from a one-time service activity. Project CARE is a way to cultivate longterm relationships through follow-up and ongoing programs. It also allows Rochester students to develop more personal relationships with local students, teachers, administrators, and families."

The community service component of this year's tribute ties in nicely with the commemorative address and with the way King's own son has chosen to continue his father's work. Among youth programs that King has initiated are the King Summer Intern Program, which provides employment opportunities for high school students; Hoops for Health, a charity basketball game to raise awareness of newborns suffering the effects of substance abuse; and Call to Manhood, an event that connects young African-American males with positive adult role models.

"Martin Luther King III is the perfect person for this year's address. Not only does he help celebrate the legacy of his father, a legacy of social justice and civil rights, but he also brings the focus back to civic engagement," adds Burnett.

Marquis Harrison '07, president of the Black Students' Union and a student coordinator for this year's program, agrees. He is one of several student leaders invited to a special dinner and roundtable discussion with King following the address.

"We've all seen those pictures of Dr. King with his children. Having the opportunity to meet with King's son is a way to connect with that important era in this nation's history and with someone who is doing his part to keep that dream of equality alive, a dream not yet fully realized. I'm excited to see other students energized by the opportunity. I think we should all cherish the moment and let it inspire us to stay involved and engaged."

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