Queens College to honor and pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with virtual celebration

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Courtesy of Kupferberg Center for the Arts at College Queens

This year’s presentation of the annual Queens College Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration is a free, virtual event on Sunday, Jan. 17, at 3 p.m. and will celebrate King’s legacy and connection with today’s student activism and engagement. 

Queens College President Frank Wu and President of the QC Student Association Zaire Couloute will serve as co-hosts of the livestreamed event, The Time is Now: Forward!

“So much of what we do on our campus today continues to echo Dr. King’s message — a tangible commitment to an environment that is respectful and supportive of our diverse student body, the ongoing work of our Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding (CERRU), and the maintenance of a special collections archive in the Benjamin J. Rosenthal Library that chronicles the extensive civil rights activism of our alumni,” Wu said. 

The commemoration will evoke King’s 1965 appearance at the college, where he emphasized the power of peaceful resistance in his address to students as the inaugural speaker in the John F. Kennedy Memorial Lecture Series, with today’s Queens College students quoting passages from his speech. 

Musical, dance and spoken word performances are planned, as well as a special video presentation highlighting the college’s history of activism. Additionally, a panel of distinguished educators will discuss King’s enduring legacy. 

Special guests will include Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, the first African-American man to be elected to the office, who will offer welcoming remarks.  

Queens College Professor Antonio Hart, who directs the jazz studies program in the college’s Aaron Copland School of Music, will perform on saxophone. Hart has long been recognized as one of the most talented instrumentalists of his generation, and is widely considered one of the top alto saxophonists in jazz today. After graduating, Hart earned his master’s degree at Queens College, where he had the opportunity to learn from the great Jimmy Heath and Donald Byrd. Hart’s 1997 release, “Here I Stand,” was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo. 

Antonio Hart (Photo courtesy of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts)

Vocalist, songwriter and entertainer Alita Moses will perform a musical selection. She has performed with a long list of household names in both the jazz and pop worlds, including legends like Shawn Mendes, Al Jarreau and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Moses recently completed a new project with the Louis Armstrong House Museum (LAHM) under its now program, “Armstrong Now!” In this integrative video series, contemporary Black artists respond to Louis Armstrong’s legacy by creating new works.

Alita Moses (Photo courtesy of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts)

Queens College students Alisha Anderson and Kayra Theodore will present dance and spoken word performances, respectively.

Then, Queens College History Professor Deidre Flowers, interim director of the college’s Africana Studies Program; Queens College History Professor Sandy Placido, inaugural Dominican Studies Scholar at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute; and Rabbi Moshe Shur, former director of Hillel at the college, will discuss King’s enduring legacy and relevance, and efforts to achieve racial justice in higher education. 

Queens College has a longstanding history of involvement in the struggle for equality and social justice. In 1964, Queens College student Andrew Goodman was slain, along with fellow civil rights workers James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, during a voter registration project in Mississippi. 

The following spring, as the inaugural speaker in the college’s John F. Kennedy Memorial Lecture Series, Dr. King emphasized the power of peaceful resistance. In 2015, at its 91st commencement ceremony — and 50 years after Dr. King’s address — the college awarded a posthumous honorary doctoral degree to Goodman.

To register for the event, click here