BY NATHAN DUKE
Editor in Chief
Queens College’s Kupferberg Center for the Arts will commemorate the life of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. this coming weekend with a performance by a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock and a keynote speech by city Public Advocate Letitia James.
The center—located at 65-30 Kissena Blvd. in Flushing—will host its fourth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration at 4 p.m. on Jan. 14 in the Colden Auditorium. The acclaimed all-woman African American ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock will headline the event. James will speak during the event and Hazel N. Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference and a member of the organization’s national board of directors, will be recognized with a special award—which will be presented by Jackie Arrington-Pinkard, of the Greater Queens Chapter of The Links, Inc.—for her ongoing efforts to further the work of King.
Sweet Honey in the Rock has released 24 recordings and received three Grammy nominations since forming in 1973. The group—which has collaborated with everyone from the National Symphony Orchestra to Stevie Wonder—performs via song, dance and sign language and is known for its five-part harmonies.
Queens College has a longstanding history of involvement in civil rights, equality and social justice initiatives. In 1964, Queens College student Andrew Goodman was slain—along with fellow civil rights workers James Chaney and Michael Schwerner—during a voter registration project in Mississippi. The following spring, King acted as the inaugural speaker at the college’s John F. Kenney Memorial Lecture Series. In 2015, at its 91st commencement ceremony, the college awarded a posthumous honorary doctoral degree to Goodman.
“We take enormous pride in our long association with the civil rights movement, personified by the sacrifice and commitment of so many of our alumni, in particular Andrew Goodman,” Queens College President Felix V. Matos Rodriguez said. “We are also deeply grateful to those alumni and friends of Queens College who have generously donated their personal papers and artifacts to our library’s Civil Rights Special Collections archive for the benefit of future generations of students and researchers.”
In recent years, the college has awarded president’s medals to journalist Jerry Mitchell and the Philadelphia Coalition’s Leroy Clemons—whose work led to the indictment of former Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen for the murders of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner—and civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).
“Queens College has long been committed to creating a community of diversity and equality, characteristics emblematic of Dr. King’s lifework,” James said. “As we continue our efforts to move our society forward, we must spread Dr. King’s message of love and inclusion, especially among our students.”
Tickets for the college’s event range from $25 to $35 and can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com.
Reach editor-in-chief Nathan Duke via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 122.