Martin Luther King and Black History Month Celebrations

Social activism was the focus of Ithaca College’s Martin Luther King Celebration 2016. As such, the MLK Week keynote speaker, Umi Selah, spoke about his awakening as an activist in college and his founding of the Dream Defenders in response to the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Selah gave an impassioned speech, telling the audience, “In a time when our communities are dying, it is indeed a time to be alive—a beautiful time to rise up and say, ‘I am alive. I will protect my brothers. I will protect my sisters. Bleeding and bruised, I will be there.’”

Other highlights from MLK Week and Black History Month included the following:

  • A presentation by students of the MLK Scholar Program detailing their civil rights tour during fall break in 2015
  • Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale, a performance telling the story of three young women experiencing gentrification of their beloved Harlem, written and performed by Jaylene Clark Owens ’10
  • Student-led workshops on the social identity of “blackness” in the 21st century and a showcase featuring students’ talent entitled Reclaiming Blackness
  • A Day of Service to commemorate the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for communities to work together to address challenges
  • Step Fest, a performance showcasing the talent of the IC Step Team
  • A Black History Month concert featuring the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers, students from the Worlds of Music class and the African Drumming and Dance Ensemble