A Community Tradition

Dear Orange Friends:

Syracuse University does many things well – indeed, better than at any university I have encountered. Our Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration is one of these.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is remembered differently in various universities, as I learned during a previous job (see A Parable of Law School Leadership [PDF, 168KB], University of Toledo Law Review, Vol. 36, Fall 2004). At Syracuse, thanks to the leadership of many people – including Hendricks Chapel and its Deans, we have filled the Carrier Dome one night each year for 30 years. The community-wide event combines song, performance, reflection, celebration, and food. It takes so many volunteers all year to plan and execute.

This year, a cross-University committee headed by Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Sylvia Langford did wonders. More than 2,000 of us benefitted from great music and performances by the Black Celestial Choral Ensemble, the 2015 MLK Community Choir, the Syracuse Elks Pride 315 Drum Line, Dominique Forbes, Zinda Bollywood Fusion Dance Team, Ronald James-Terry Taylor and Beverly Okanome, Miracle Rogers, ONEWORLD Dancers, Black Legacy, and The Young and Talented Performing Arts Company. Keynote Speaker Michele Norris, the National Public Radio host, engaged a team of students to present a dazzling array of six-word essays on race and identity. It was the kind of candid dialogue a great university should ensure.

The highlight of the evening, for me, was something uniquely Syracuse. As in past years, we celebrated four “unsung heroes” — from our faculty, staff, students, and community. These are folks who quietly embody, in daily life, all that Reverend King stood for, and who work tirelessly to promote a better and more inclusive world. This year, Dajaveon Bellamy, Karaline Rothwell, Ronald James-Terry Taylor, and Mable Wilson were chosen. I hope you read more about them here .

Kent Syverud's signature
Chancellor Kent Syverud