Mem­bers of the North­eastern com­mu­nity joined Boston high school stu­dents in cel­e­brating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Wednesday, the day that would have marked the civil rights leader’s 85th birthday.

The event, held in the Amilcar Cabral Center at the John D. O’Bryant African-​​American Insti­tute, fea­tured gospel music and per­sonal reflec­tions. It was part of Northeastern’s year­long “50 Years For­ward: The Journey Con­tinues” series, which com­mem­o­rates the 50th anniver­sary of the passing of the Civil Rights Act.

A big reason why we are here today and we are able to enjoy the rela­tion­ships across cul­tures, across bound­aries, and across reli­gions is because of what Dr. King has meant to us as a society and a com­mu­nity,” Richard O’Bryant, director of the O’Bryant African-​​American Insti­tute, said in his wel­coming remarks.

In addi­tion to hon­oring the Civil Rights Act, “50 Years For­ward” is also cel­e­brating the 45th anniver­sary of the O’Bryant African-​​American Insti­tute and the 40th anniver­sary of the Depart­ment of African Amer­ican Studies. The insti­tute is named after John D. O’Bryant, Northeastern’s first African-​​American vice president.

At Wednesday’s event, the audi­ence watched a TEDx­Teen talk by Natalie Warne, who dis­cussed her work with Invis­ible Chil­dren and what it means to be fighting for a cause from behind the scenes. Founded in 2004, Invis­ible Chil­dren works to bring aware­ness to the activ­i­ties of the Lord’s Resis­tance Army in Cen­tral Africa, which has recruited thou­sands of child sol­diers over the last 25 years.

Emmett Price, an asso­ciate pro­fessor of music and former chair of the Depart­ment of African Amer­ican Studies, offered his thoughts on King’s legacy and told those in atten­dance to be like Warne and fight for what they believe in.

Be the best you that you can be,” Price said. “Have the courage to be you. Today is the day where you hit the bat­tle­field. Let King’s birthday be the day that stim­u­lates you to move to greatness.”

First-​​year stu­dent and Ujima Scholar Derek Lin­desay, ’18, told the audi­ence he vis­ited North­eastern when he was younger but never thought he would go to school here. “If it wasn’t for the sac­ri­fices of people like Dr. King, for the people at the uni­ver­sity who thought I could make it here, and for my family, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.

Guests were also asked to share their thoughts on the impact of King’s legacy. Akira Brown, also a first-​​year stu­dent at North­eastern, noted that King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is akin to “seeing the beau­tiful colors of the world and accepting people for the dif­fer­ences they have.”

The event fea­tured two rousing musical per­for­mances, with the Unity Gospel Ensemble singing stir­ring ren­di­tions of “Lord, You Are Awe­some” and “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.”