On Sunday, January 14, IUPUI students, staff, and faculty commemorated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through a celebratory dinner themed “A Call to Conscious.”
Presented by the Black Student Union, the 49th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner was held in the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis.
IUPUI’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner is the longest running celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. in the Indianapolis community. This celebration of King’s life has been an IUPUI tradition since 1969, when it was first held in the school’s Student Union Building.
Throughout the years, this memorable event has not only honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, but has also promoted unity on campus and in the community.
The annual dinner persists Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of justice and equality for every person.
Sunday night’s dinner included several elements in tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, from singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to artistic reflection pieces being performed on stage.
The Black Student Union and the Black Faculty and Staff Council presented the awards to remarkable faculty members, students and even community organizations. Awards included the I Have a Dream Award, Dr. Joseph T. Taylor Academic Award, Community Engagement Award, Drum Major Instinct Award, Advocate of a Dream Award, and the Amoc C. Brown- Keeper of the Dream Award.
Each year, IUPUI invites leading authors, academics and activists to the celebratory dinner as keynote speakers on equality, unity and issues of social justice.
Sunday night’s keynote address was given by Nigerian-American writer, strategist and community organizer Opal Tometi.
Tometi is the Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, the leading black organization for immigrant rights. Tometi is also a co-founder of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which was sparked in 2013 after George Zimmerman was found not guilty for the murder of 17-year-old unarmed Trayvon Martin.
Past attendees for the annual celebration have included several other honorable keynote speakers who have addressed the civil rights issues of liberty, equality and opportunity.
These speakers included political activist, academic and author Angela Davis, lawyer and activist Cornell William Brooks, poet, writer, commentator, activist and educator Nikki Giovanni, and poet, memoirist and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.
In addition to the celebration dinner on Sunday, hundreds of IUPUI students, staff, faculty and community members gathered on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to continue the commemoration of Dr. King. In the event titled on campus as the “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service,” these participants volunteered at certain community sites around the city to honor the activism and commitment to justice Dr. King held.