Expressions of King’s Legacy

For 38 years, Expressions of King’s Legacy programming has been dedicated to celebrating the life and impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The event is free and open to the public.

January 30, 2020

Joy-Ann Reid Headshot

Keynote: Joy-Ann Reid, Host of AM Joy & Correspondent at MSNBC

Reid is a political analyst at MSNBC and host of AM Joy, which airs Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon. Her latest book, The Man Who Sold America: Trump and the Unraveling of the American Story, was published in June and is a New York Times best seller. She is also the author of Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons and the Racial Divide and the co-editor, with Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, of We Are the Change We Seek: The Speeches of Barack Obama. Reid’s columns and articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Miami Herald, New York Magazine and The Daily Beast.

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Poet Javon Johnson and actress Mzuri Moyo Aimbaye

Performances: Poet Javon Johnson and actress Mzuri Moyo Aimbaye

Javon Johnson is an award-winning poet who discusses race and gender theory with comedy, lyricism and rhyme schemes. He has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, BET’s Lyric Café, TV One’s Verses and Flow, and co-wrote a documentary titled Crossover, which aired on Showtime, in collaboration with the NBA and Nike.

Mzuri Moyo Aimbaye will perform an excerpt from the one-woman play titled The Fannie Lou Hamer Story. The play is based on the life of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, a leader in the civil rights movement and co-founder and vice-chair of the Freedom Democratic Party, which she represented at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

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Past Speakers

Fredricka Whitfield Headshot

2017
Keynote: Fredricka Whitfield
Performances: Fisk Jubilee Singers

Tavis Smiley Headshot

2014
Keynote: Tavis Smiley
Performances: Curtis Babers

Julianne Malveaux Headshot

2013
Keynote: Julianne Malveaux
Performances: THREE MO’ TENORS, The Meeting – a play by Jeff Stetson

Nikki Giovanni Headshot

2011
Keynote: Nikki Giovanni
Performances: Aeolian, David Johnson

History

The Black Awareness Coordinating Committee (BACC) was formed during the Spring 1969 quarter at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The purpose of the group was “to foster and sustain an awareness of Black people being an integral part of our nation’s society.”  

In 1977, the organization touted itself as being the only organization “run exclusively for and by minority students.” At the time, the group’s membership consists mostly of Black and Puerto Rican undergraduates, though several graduate students belonged to the organization as well. Some of the programs sponsored by BACC included a Black student orientation, Black Awareness Week, and Educational Day, which introduced inner-city high school students to the world of higher education.

In 1991, the Commission for Promoting Pluralism partnered with BACC to deliver the annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. That April, the Commission held what was then called the Conference on Racism. Twenty years later, in 2002, the Commission renamed the conference to the Expressions of Diversity Conference. Then in 2010, the Annual Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King was combined into a week-long celebration—Expressions of King’s Legacy. In 2012, the program was moved under the Office for Diversity & Inclusion, continuing with the name of Expressions of King’s Legacy. Many campus members played an important role in the start of this celebration and the continuing of it as the longest standing diversity program at RIT.