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MLK Day Celebration at Ithaca College will feature Talk by RFK Human Rights Award Winner

ITHACA, NY — Ithaca College’s annual plans for honoring the life and lasting legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. will include a talk by a farmworker rights campaigner; a panel discussion and educational sessions; a concert featuring student, faculty, community and guest performers; and a day of service to local nonprofit organizations.

This year’s campus-wide MLK Day Celebration on Monday, Jan. 20, is themed “A Single Garment of Destiny” — from a phrase used frequently by King in his speeches and writings, such as in his Letter from Birmingham Jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

All of the MLK Day Celebration events are free and open to the public. A more detailed description of the activities can be found at

The keynote speaker will be Librada Paz, a leader in New York’s farmworker rights movement. Her talk will be held at 4 p.m. in Emerson Suites, Phillips Hall.

At the age of 15, Paz emigrated from Mexico to the United States and began working in the fields. She experienced firsthand the hardships of sub-standard housing, long hours in grueling heat and the constant moves to follow seasonal crops. Even worse, as a young female farmworker, she suffered physical and sexual abuse by labor contractors and growers who were in positions of power.

Paz eventually stopped working on farms herself and became an activist for others. She currently conducts her human rights advocacy with the Rural Migrant Ministry, an organization founded in 1981 that focuses on rectifying the injustices that farmworkers face. She was the 2012 recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, given by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

The program will also include presentations by the first-year students in the college’s MLK Scholar Program, who will share their experiences and personal reflections on the Civil Rights tour they took during the fall of 2013.

Below is the rest of the event schedule for the Jan. 20 MLK Day Celebration.

History of Student Activism @IC
9 a.m., Emerson Suites, Phillips Hall

A panel of alumni, staff, faculty and current students will discuss the campus climate and activism during critical periods in the history of Ithaca College from the 1960s to the present, including  the founding of the African-Latino Society, protests against the Vietnam War and the selection of New York governor Nelson Rockefeller as commencement speaker, the South African divestment movement, the formation of the MLK Day Celebration and the creation of the Asian American Studies minor program.

MLK Educational Workshops
10–11:30 a.m. and 2:00–3:30 p.m., various locations, Campus Center

Faculty, staff and students will lead a series of concurrent discussions on a variety of civil rights topics, including gender equality, the responsibilities of global citizenship, African immigrants in the U.S. and sustainability.

A New Definition of Freedom: Civic Engagement & the 1961 Freedom Ride
Noon, Klingenstein Lounge, Egbert Hall

Showing and discussion of the PBS film “Freedom Riders” led by Tariq Meyers ’14, who was one of 40 college students selected by PBS to recreate the historic Freedom Rides.

MLK Celebration Concert
7:30 p.m., Ford Hall, Whalen Center

The Ithaca College School of Music’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. will feature American soprano Marlissa Hudson performing selections from Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.”

Described as a “superb lyric coloratura,” Hudson made her professional debut singing “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess” with the Baltimore Symphony Pops Orchestra under the baton of Marvin Hamlisch. She later performed the role of Bess in a production of the musical by Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis. As a concert soloist, she has collaborated with such organizations as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, National Philharmonic Orchestra, Prince George’s Philharmonic and Choralis.

Directed by School of Music faculty members Janet Galvan and Baruch Whitehead, the concert will also include performances by the Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra, faculty and students, and the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers, a group dedicated to the preservation of the Negro Spiritual.

In addition to the events on MLK Day, Ithaca College students will take part in a Day of Service on Saturday, Jan. 25. From 9 a.m.–4 p.m., they will perform volunteer activities at nonprofit organizations throughout the community, including the Tompkins County Public Library, Finger Lakes ReUse, Woods Earth Living Classroom, Family Reading Partnership and Beechtree Care Center.

The college was awarded a competitive grant from New York Campus Compact and the Corporation for National and Community Service to assist in the Day of Service. The Collegiate Challenge grant will help pay for the transportation of the student volunteers.

The MLK Day Celebration is sponsored by the Office of Student Engagement and Multicultural Affairs. For more information, contact John Rawlins, assistant director for multicultural affairs, at