Preserving and inspiring the community memory of the late Dr. King

In honor of the legendary civil right activist, Syracuse University will host events this Saturday and next, that not only bring the Board Chairman of the NAACP—but also offer various activities and workshops to continue to spread the message of “community” Dr. King was so passionate about.

SU will host its 28th annual Martin Luther King celebration “Yesterday’s Dream, Tomorrow’s Promise” at the Carrier Dome Saturday, Jan. 19, starting at 5:30 p.m. And on the following Saturday, Jan. 26, the celebrations will continue with a community festival at Frazer Elementary School on Park Avenue. Both events are free and open to the public.

“This is one of the largest, university based, [MLK] events in the country,” says Kelly Rodoski, Communications Manager at the Office of News and Services at SU.

Roslyn M. Brock

The event will welcome keynote speaker Roslyn M. Brock, Board Chairman of the NAACP and the youngest to ever serve in the position. Brock, a member of the NAACP for more than 27 years, has earned multiple degrees as a master’s in health services administration, an MBA, and a Master of Divinity from such schools as Virginia Union, George Washington and Northwestern. In addition, according to Brock’s biography on the NAACP website, she was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Virginia Union.

“I think she’s going to be a great speaker,” Rodoski says about Brock. “She’s young and she’s a person who has been involved with the NAACP for a long time.”

Before the event the 2013 Martin Luther King  Jr. Unsung Hero Awards dinner will also be held at the Carrier Dome, honoring a selection of one Syracuse University or ESF student and faculty or staff, one Onondaga County youth, and one community leader. Tickets for the awards will be available until Wednesday, Jan. 16, $25 for the general public and $15 for students without meal plans.

The following Saturday Syracuse University will continue their celebration at Frazer Elementary School with a community festival beginning at 12 p.m. The event will be divided into two parts, the first focusing on workshops and informational tables, and the second on performances and the 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Young Unsung Hero Awards—honoring 21 K-12 students across Syracuse who have been nominated by teachers and faculty or staff, and then carefully selected based on their exceptional achievement in community engagement.

“It’s a continuation of this Saturday’s event, celebrating the arts culture and education in the Syracuse community specifically,” says Marissa Willingham, Chair for the community celebration and Program Associate for Budgets at the Office of Multicultural Affairs at SU, about the celebration.

Some highlights include Syracuse University football players coming to assist in some of the workshops, which include learning how to break dance, drum, kick box, create art, and recite poetry. In addition, the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity from the university will perform, as well as local community organization La Casita’s Bomba y Plena dance troupe, and a collaboration break dance team that will bring together Syracuse University and Nottingham High School.

Also available will be local agencies from around Syracuse who will set up tables to promote and inform community residents about important and useful services. Some agencies include Siesta Education, Syracuse City Parks and Recreation, Education Opportunity Center, 100 Black Men of Syracuse, Latino Professional Network, Dance Theater of Syracuse and the Children’s Consortium of Syracuse.

“This is something we want to give back to the community because a lot of the time we don’t have opportunities like these to reach out—and this is for everyone,” Willingham says. “We are making sure to honor the ‘Yesterday’s Dream, Tomorrow’s Promise’ theme by celebrating Dr. King and what he stands for,” Willingham says. “It’s a time to come learn and enjoy… to live out his legacy.”

The event will run at Frazer Elementary School, 741 Park St., until 4 p.m. with a closing reception at 3:30 p.m.

Volunteers are still needed. If you would like to help, contact Marissa Willingham by Friday, Jan. 18, at mlwill07@syr.edu or (315) 443-9676.