Northeastern Community Honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Marchelle Jacques-Yarde's solo performance
Photo by Craig Bailey

January 14, 2009

As Americans get ready to bear witness to the first African-American president sworn into the highest office of the United States, Northeastern University celebrated the legacy of another African-African leader in the nation’s history today. The University honored Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as part of an annual convocation gathering faculty, staff and students.

Today’s event, sponsored by Northeastern’s John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute, featured performances celebrating African-American culture, as well speakers including President Joseph E. Aoun and Reverend Dr. John Silvanus Wilson, Jr., executive dean and associate professor at George Washington University.

In his opening remarks, President Aoun emphasized the impact Barack Obama’s election having across the globe. “The universality of this election symbolizes the enormous progress in this country, but also underscores what needs to be done in many other parts of the world,” said Aoun.

Aoun also reflected on how far the U.S. has come and urged the Northeastern community to do exemplary things, both as a community and as individuals, to benefit society. 

“At Northeastern, our goal is not to mirror society but to be a model for society,” added Aoun.

Wilson delivered the keynote address and spoke about the later years of Dr. King’s life and how the messages he delivered more than 40 years ago are still relevant today. “He was beautiful because he was courageously committed to the right thing,” said Wilson. He also lauded the election of Barack Obama as “a special moment” in U.S. history.

Other speakers included Richard O’Bryant, director of the O’Bryant African-American Institute, and Dr. Emmett G. Price III, chair of the department of African-American Studies at Northeastern. Students Marques Crosby, president of the Black Student Association, Robert Ranley, president of the Student Government Association, Nathan Simms, president of Brothers About Change, and Douglas McEachern, president of Alpha Phi Alpha, also took to the stage and brought their own voices to the legacy of King.

Performances celebrating African-American culture and art included a percussion and dance act by Intafrika, and Northeastern’s Unity Gospel Ensemble featuring Marchelle Jacques-Yarde, who delivered a solo that sparked energy throughout the audience.

Following the convocation, a reception was held in Gallery 360, featuring an exhibit by 13 artists from Northeastern’s African-American Master Artists in Residence Program. The exhibit (open through Monday, January 19) features art in various forms, from paintings to sculpture to digital art, which focuses on the African Diaspora.

For more information, please contact Jenny Catherine Eriksen at 617-373-2802 or at j.eriksen@neu.edu.

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