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SUNY Brockport honors MLK legacy

By: Sarah Prentice

Brockport, NY – SUNY Brockport is hosting an on-campus speaker event in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) on Feb. 29. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Giving a Speech (Photo credit: David Erickson, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

The guest speaker is Dr. Lerone A. Martin, Centennial Professor at Stanford University and director for the university’s Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute.

The event is sponsored by the African American Studies Department, Brockport Student Government, and the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion. 

According to an online flier promoting the event, it encourages students to “learn about MLK and his activism beyond his ‘I have a dream speech.’” 

The chair of the African American studies department, Dr. Douglas Thomas, told 89.1 the Point SUNY Brockport hosts this event annually. 

“We have this annual event to highlight the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr and others who fought valiantly for the rights of people of African descent in America and throughout the Western Hemisphere,” he said. “This event also highlights the cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity of our community through reflection on King’s concept of the Beloved Community.”

89.1 the Point spoke to Dr. Martin, who explained that his religious upbringing inspired him to dedicate his life studying Martin Luther King Jr. and he hopes to inspire the next generations to engage with MLK’s work. 

“My main goal is to challenge people to have a conversation with Martin Luther King Jr. and by a conversation, I mean, to actually engage the things that he wrote,” Dr. Lerone A. Martin told 89.1 The Point. “The things that he said and the things that he did, to not simply accept the version that we are often presented with that is convenient."

Dr. Martin also emphasized the importance of history and its influence in conversations about MLK and societal issues.

"History is not one of these things, where it's such a treasure chest of all the right answers. But I do think history is a place where we can go to gain wisdom from those who went before us,” he stated. “..and then figure out their victories and their mistakes, how those things might inform us so that we can confront our own societal ills, not just with luck, or our own limited knowledge, but with the knowledge and experience of those who went before us."

The event is set to take place Feb. 29 from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. in the McCue Auditorium in the Fannie Barrier Williams Building, following a welcome reception in Eagle Lookout at 6:00 p.m. 

Jamalis Melendez contributed to this article. 

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