‘King’s Challenge: Can We Live Peacefully in a Violent World’ is theme for Syracuse University’s 2008 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

The 23rd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will be held in Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome on the evening of Sunday, Jan. 20. The celebration, “King’s Challenge: Can We Live Peacefully in a Violent World?” will feature a keynote address by writer, historian and political activist Barbara Ransby; choral music by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School Gospel Choir and SU’s Black Celestial Choral Ensemble; and the presentation of the 2008 Unsung Heroes Awards.

This year’s award recipients are Lakesa Allen, a junior at Corcoran High School in Syracuse; Eunyoung Choi and Junghoon Oh, a doctoral candidate and master’s degree candidate, respectively, in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; Gertrude Danzy, a staff member at Syracuse University and advocate in the Syracuse community; Ann Tiffany, a Central New York peace activist; and Danya Wellmon and Betsy Wiggins, co-founders of Women Transcending Boundaries.

The day’s events begin at 11:30 a.m. with a Community Celebration at the Dr. King Elementary School, 416 E. Raynor Ave., presented by the Syracuse Inner City Rotary Club and SU. Julius Edwards, a community activist and assistant director of the Hillbrook Juvenile Detention Center, will preside. Ransby will offer informal remarks, and the event will feature performances by the Syracuse Signature Jazz Ensemble with soloist Danielle Evans; the Dr. King Elementary School Drill Team; the Levy Middle School Choir; and the Tucker Missionary Baptist Church Choir. A reception and book signing will follow.

The evening celebration will be preceded by “An Open Conversation with Barbara Ransby,” at 3 p.m. in Maxwell Auditorium. There, Ransby will discuss her book “Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision” (University of North Carolina Press, 2003), an award-winning biography of civil rights activist Ella Baker. This event is free and open to the public; a reception and book signing will also follow.

The evening program in the Carrier Dome will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Tickets for the dinner, which precedes the program at 5:30 p.m., are sold out. For more information or to be placed on a waiting list for tickets, call Hendricks Chapel at 443-5044.

Ransby is an associate professor of African American studies and history at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the recipient of a national Ford Foundation postdoctoral fellowship (2000-01) and numerous other recognitions and awards, most notably the prestigious Catherine Prelinger Scholarship Award for her overall contributions to women’s history and her unconventional scholarly career.

Ransby is currently chair of the Committee on Women Historians of the American Historical Association and is working on two major research projects: a study of African American feminist organizations in the 1970s and a political biography of Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson, which will be published by Yale University Press in 2009.