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Queens College is about to host an inspirational afternoon in honor of an extremely inspirational Civil Rights leader.

The Dance Theatre of Harlem will take the stage as the main event during a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration at Colden Auditorium on the Flushing school’s campus on Sunday, Jan. 15, at 4 p.m.

Founded in 1969, the ballet troupe consists of 14 artists from diverse backgrounds who perform an eclectic, demanding repertoire. Members use the physical language of ballet to celebrate African American culture, mixing treasured, time-honored classics with modern pieces by resident choreographer Robert Garland.

Tickets cost $35 each, but that’s not all. NY1 anchor Cheryl Wills will be the keynote speaker for a Dr. King-inspired program that will honor Rev. Dr. Floyd H. Flake.

Wills, a native New Yorker who has won New York Press Club and AP awards, is also the author of “Die Free: A Heroic Family,” which reports on her great-great-great grandfather Sandy Wills and his service in the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War. She also wrote a related children’s book, “The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills.”

Reverend Flake is senior pastor of the 23-000-member Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in Jamaica. He is also the former president of Wilberforce University in Ohio and a former congressman who represented a Queens-based district from 1987 to 1997. Early on during his career, he was director of Boston University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Center.

There will also be reports on a contemporaneous trip that Rabbi Moshe Shur, an adjunct professor at Queens College, will be leading through Georgia and Alabama. The retired director of the campus Hillel will take 18 students to museums, memorials, and historically significant sites. They will also meet civil rights activists such as Barbara Emerson Williams, whose family foundation established Hosea Feed the Hungry in Atlanta. (Williams is the daughter of Rev. Hosea Williams, who worked as Dr. King’s assistant.)

As part of the itinerary, the rabbi and the undergraduates will retrace Dr. King’s famous 1965 protest march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where armed police officers attacked peaceful protesters with billy clubs and tear gas.

Front photo by Matthew Murphy


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