Black Lives Matter community events to commemorate King

“Black Lives Matter” is the theme of a community luncheon and dialogue in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Ithaca, and the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement are coming to Cornell Feb. 3 for the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecture. All events are free and open to the public.

The community celebration, Monday, Jan. 18 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School, 302 W. Buffalo St., Ithaca, includes live music and a luncheon with guest speaker Russell Rickford. A presentation by young participants in the Million Man March, “Boys to Men: the Next Generation of Manhood,” is at 11 a.m. in the Beverly J. Martin library.

Rickford, an assistant professor of history in Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences, was among the organizers of a Black Lives Matter Teach-In in Ithaca in October. His research interests include the black radical tradition and black political culture after WWII.

A native of Guyana, he is the author of “Betty Shabazz: Surviving Malcolm X” (2005) and “We Are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination,” being published this month by Oxford University Press; and co-author of “Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English.”

The Black Lives Matter movement originally consolidated around the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media in 2013, as a response to bias and racial violence, and the acquittal of George Zimmerman in Florida in the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, two of the community organizers credited with beginning the online campaign that became a national civil rights movement, will be joined by Janaya Khan, an international ambassador for #BLM Network, at Cornell’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecture,  Wednesday, Feb. 3 from 4:45 to 6:15 p.m. in Sage Chapel. The event, with performances by the Community Unity Music Education Program and the Baraka Kwa Wimbo gospel ensemble, is free and open to the public.

The annual King Commemorative Lecture provides a public, campus-based forum making the life and legacy of Dr. King accessible for contemporary times. It is sponsored by Cornell United Religious Work, the Africana Studies and Research Center, Student and Campus Life and community co-sponsors.

Cornell’s King commemoration also includes the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives presentation of Sister Outsider Poetry, Jan. 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. in G10 Biotech, with Dominique Christina and Denice Frohman performing spoken word as a tool for social change.

Ithaca’s annual MLK Day celebration is organized by the Greater Ithaca Activities Center, the Multicultural Resource Center and the Center for Transformative Action, with co-sponsors including the Cornell Public Service Center, Cornell Campus Life, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, Ithaca College’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and Center for Student Leadership and Involvement, GreenStar Cooperative Market and community members.

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Melissa Osgood