Congressional medalist opens MLK week celebrations

Last night ushered in NYU’s weeklong Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. This week’s theme, 50 Years Forward: The Cost of a Dream Deferred, is meant to facilitate a dialogue about the consequences of not accomplishing social justice, according to Monroe France, director of the NYU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Student Center.

The opening ceremony was meant to engage students and build a community within NYU.

“When we do such events it is to build community and to give out a message,” said event coordinator Manavi Khurana. “The message would be of MLK’s and what he left behind with us. [With] this event, we hope to bring like-minded people, maybe socialists or students that have similar interests.”

Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, a former NYU graduate and Tuskegee Airman, was the night’s keynote speaker. Dr. Brown was previously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and was also one of the first African-American professors at NYU. Studying at NYU during King’s assassination, Brown encouraged students to follow their dreams despite obstacles.

“Focus on the future,” he said. “The past is interesting, but the future is where you will be living.”

Cenithia Bilal, LSP freshman, said the event helped create a place where she could celebrate Black History Month.

“At my school I never got a chance to actually celebrate it other than the fact they would throw it out over the loud speaker,” Bilal said.

To Steinhardt first-year graduate student Loris Jones-Randolph, hearing Dr. Brown speak made her feel connected with black history.

“Someone that can actually tell you that this is what happened … when I walked in with MLK and this is what happened … when I was a kid. That always makes me feel connected and alive,” Jones-Randolph said. “I know that dream is not going to die and is going to keep going forward from generation to generation.”

Martin Luther King Jr. week will feature a weeklong schedule of events. Tonight students can attend a film screening and panel discussion at Kimmel.

In a previous version of the article “Congressional medalist opens MLK Week” WSN inaccurately reported that Monroe France was the director of the NYU LGBTQ Student Center. In fact, he is the assistant vice president for student diversity. 
WSN also incorrectly reported that Manavi Khurana was the event coordinator. In fact, she was a collaborator from the Stern Graduate Student Organization. The main event coordinators were Francesca Walker, Leslie St. Jour, David Clark, Aisha Abdelmula.
WSN also incorrectly omitted the fact that the event was sponsored by the African Heritage Month in collaboration with the Steinhardt GSO, MLK Week and the NYU Office for Government and Community Affairs.

A version of this article appeared in the Feb. 5 print edition. Neela Qadir is deputy university editor. Email her at [email protected]