College to Participate in MLK Commemoration Event Jan. 16
SUNY Plattsburgh Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Allison Heard will be guest speaker at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commision's commemoration service Monday, Jan. 16 at 1:30 p.m. in the Newman Center, 90 Broad St. in Plattsburgh.
“I am honored to be asked to deliver a keynote presentation during the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2023 Celebration,” Heard said. “Silence can be violence, and doing nothing is still doing something. Days like Monday, Jan. 16 are perfect times for our community to remind ourselves where we have been and to reimagine where we want to go.”
Recalling one of her favorite MLK quotes, in which he said, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right,” Heard said King “would never have imagined the progress we have made.”
“Yet we still have so far to go,” she said. “A dream can best be described as a series of thoughts that often occur when people are in a settled state or when they are — or think they are — asleep. Eventually people wake up. Awakening can sometimes be exciting or disappointing.”
'Together, We Can Be the Dream'
With the theme of the Jan. 16 commemoration being “Together, We Can Be the Dream,” Heard said she hopes to impart her own dream “about how we can move in a positive direction to make that dream a reality. Let's not take that famous speech for granted. We need to wake up; we need to get up. We need to speak up (and) we need to lift our heads up.”
The program also includes musical interludes by Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir founder and professor of chemistry, Dr. Dexter Criss, and the MLK Singers, many of whom are also Gospel Choir members.
Criss, who began his own involvement with the commission’s MLK commemoration more than 20 years ago, created the MLK Singers for those community members who can’t sing with the Gospel Choir on a regular basis.
“They’re able to sing with us at this one event every year,” he said.
Donations for Scholarship
Dr. Tracie Guzzio, director of the college’s honors program and chair of the MLK Scholarship committee, said in the past, winners, announced the previous May, are introduced as part of commemoration. However, scholarships, granted to eligible high school students, weren’t able to be awarded last May.
“So I will just be up there asking for donations (for the scholarship fund) and reminding the audience that this is part of our mission besides the celebration,” Guzzio said. “Usually the winner, who has to be a graduating senior, is invited to read from their winning essay on the impact that Martin Luther King had on their life, education, values and so on.”
She expects the scholarship program to continue next year. For more information on the scholarship, contact Guzzio at [email protected].
For more information on the Jan. 16 celebration, contact the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission at 518-569-5617 or email [email protected].
— Story by Associate Director of Communications Gerianne Downs