Brandeis honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A celebration of legacy, love and service

A room of people singing
The community joined together to sing "Lift Every Voice and Sing," referred to as "The Black National Anthem."

Photo Credit: Maddie Schroeder

By Kennedy Ryan
January 12, 2024

The Brandeis community came together to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with song, speech and recognition of community service. 

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration was held on Thursday, Jan. 11 in Sherman Function Hall. This year’s event celebrated the 60th anniversary of King’s march on Washington, a historical moment for the Civil Rights Movement.

In addition to a variety of speakers, the event featured a moment for the community to join in singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing," referred to as "The Black National Anthem," and a performance of "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone, performed by Nora Elbasha ’25.

Reverend Emmanuel "Manny" Daphnis ’98
Reverend Emmanuel "Manny" Daphnis ’98 shared photos of the 2015 Ford Hall sit-in, an important moment shared with his son.
Photo Credit: Maddie Schroeder

Reverend Emmanuel "Manny" Daphnis ’98, a pastor at Restoration Community Church in Brockton, Massachusetts, connected King’s legacy to the historical fight for social justice among Brandeisians.

“Who are the Dr. Kings of our day?” said Daphnis. “Illustrious Brandeisians, I contend that the Dr. Kings are right here in this room, as historically, they’ve walked through these same halls.”

Tanisha Sullivan, president of the NAACP Boston Branch
Tanisha Sullivan, President of the NAACP Boston Branch
Photo Credit: Maddie Schroeder

Tanisha Sullivan, president of the NAACP Boston Branch, emphasized the importance of love in taking a stand for social justice. When love is true, she shared, it comes with an unquenchable desire to act.

“I encourage us to carry a deep appreciation for the diversity of our walks, with an understanding that although my walk may not be your walk, each of our walks are inextricably linked,” said Sullivan. “If we’re driven and anchored in love, even where there’s difference, we can still march together forward toward greater freedom and justice, wherever it may be found.”

Kathryn A. Bethea-Rivera speaks at a podium as Karl LaClair looks on
Karl LaClair, Chaplain and Coordinator of Christian Life, and Kathryn A. Bethea-Rivera, Director of the Myra Kraft Achievers Program, hosted the event.
Photo Credit: Maddie Schroeder

Participants were invited to join in the community service opportunities. VoteDeis Campus Coalition, Waltham Group and Community Engagement Pathways each set up stations for the community to register to vote, create no-sew blankets for Waltham women’s shelters and build toiletry bags for Newton Wellesley Hospital patients.

Kathryn A. Bethea-Rivera, director of the Myra Kraft Achievers Program, highlighted the importance of service during this commemorative event. 

“As my dad always said, MLK Day is not a day off, but a day on,” said Bethea-Rivera.

The commemoration was sponsored by the Dean of Students Office, Student Engagement, the Intercultural Center, Spiritual Life, Myra Kraft Achievers Program, the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Institutional Advancement, the Alumni of Color Network, the Alumni Association, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries and the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice.