Reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy

Dear Orange Friends:

On Sunday, the University hosted the 31st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at the Carrier Dome. Nearly 2,000 people participated in the largest such University-sponsored celebration in the nation honoring Dr. King’s legacy.

The entire event was Syracuse at its best. The evening’s program was thoughtfully planned by the University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee. This year, the Committee was led by Catherine Kellman, assistant director in the Office of Residence Life. I am grateful for the hard work and dedication of all the students, faculty and staff who made the celebration possible.

The celebration featured a number of spoken, musical, and dance performances; remarks by this year’s student speaker Danielle Reed ’16, a student in the College of Arts and Sciences; and a keynote address by Marc Lamont Hill, Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at Morehouse College.

I was traveling back to campus on Sunday so I recorded video remarks in case my flight was delayed. Thankfully I arrived at the Dome in time to celebrate five deserving individuals  from the University and greater Syracuse communities with the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Unsung Hero Awards.

In my video  remarks, I shared a passage from Dr. King’s 1962 speech at the Vanderbilt Law School in Nashville, Tennessee, where I was once Dean. Ultimately, because the law school permitted Dr. King to speak these words, University leaders punished the law school by taking away its freedom to schedule outside speakers.

I hope you will take a few moments to listen to Dr. King’s words. More than 50 years later they are equally fitting, particularly as we work to create a diverse, inclusive, and accessible living, learning, and working environment at Syracuse University.


Chancellor Kent Syverud