University Makes Annual Tribute to Life, Legacy of King

University Makes Annual Tribute to Life, Legacy of King

The Boston College community celebrated the legacy of one of America's greatest civil rights leaders, and recognized the merits of five outstanding African American Boston College students at the 20th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Awards Banquet on Feb. 13.

The event, held in the Welch Dining Room of Lyons Hall, was highlighted by the presentation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship to Tiffany Griffin, '02, a native of Springfield, and a member of the Jenks' Leadership Program who also serves as an international assistant [see related story]. The other finalists for the award were Slandah Adolphe, Farah Bernier, Ashana Davis and Amanda Veazley.

"We're here to honor all five of these students. This year the decision was especially difficult because of their impressive credentials," said Assistant Dean of Student Development Adrienne Nussbaum, chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarship Committee.

The scholarship, given annually to a student of African descent, covers 75 percent of senior year tuition.

Banquet keynote speaker Prof. Janet E. Helms (LSOE), who has written on the topics of racial identity and cultural influences on assessment and counseling practice, discussed a number of issues she related to King's work, including the education of the poor, congressional voting rights for Washington, DC, and controversy over the recent presidential election.

Such events and trends demonstrate that much of King's dream of civil rights for all remains incomplete, she said.

"The poverty rate in the United States now is higher than in the 1970s. Twenty percent of the poor are children. The poverty rate in Massachusetts is higher than the national average. Do you think that Dr. King's work to eradicate poverty is finished?
John Richardson, '01, sings during the Voices of Imani performance at the Feb. 13 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Awards Banquet.

"The payment of my debt [to civil rights leaders] is to speak out against injustices when I see them, and to try to correct them," said Helms, who is director of the Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture.

UGBC President Alvin Barnett, '01, the recipient of last year's scholarship, expressed gratitude for the award and discussed how the opportunities offered by BC have broadened his perspective.

Barnett, who has made diversity issues a central theme of his administration, encouraged the University to continue its efforts in fostering a diverse community.

"We still have to improve, but we should not be ashamed. We should be proud of our history," he said.

Barnett recalled meeting Coretta Scott King during her visit to BC last fall, and her sharp reply to his question about her late husband's "non-violent strategy."

As Barnett recalled, "She said, 'It's not a strategy, it is a way of life.' That really made me want to focus on Boston College, to make multiculturalism a way of life here."

-Stephen Gawlik


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