UPDATE: MLK Commemoration Held Virtually Sunday

Monday's Unity Walk also will be held virtually

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Princeton University Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor will be the keynote speaker.

[UPDATE -- 4 P.M. SUNDAY, JANUARY 16]

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a professor of African American Studies at Princeton University who is among 2021 MacArthur “genius grant” winners, delivered the keynote address for Duke University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration Sunday. The threat of hazardous conditions Sunday from freezing rain forced the observance to move online. The commemoration can be viewed here.

Monday's Unity Walk, which begins at noon, also will be online-only. Join Duke President Vincent Price, Duke University Head Softball Coach Marissa Young and Duke student-athletes for the event here.

Monday's meal packaging event, detailed below was moved back by an hour to 10 a.m. out of caution regarding road conditions that morning. The Duke community will join in the annual MLK Meal Packaging service event, in partnership with Triangle-area Rotary clubs, Interfaith Food Shuttle and Meals of Hope, striving to package more than 100,000 meals for North Carolina food banks. It takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Duke School, 3716 Erwin Road, Durham.

Organizers of Monday's events will continue to monitor conditions and provide updates as they are available.

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Taylor’s most recent book, “Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Home Ownership,” was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize in History and longlisted for the National Book Award. The book, published in 2019, explores how the real estate industry exploited Black communities with high interest rates and predatory selling.

Her earlier book “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation” (Haymarket Books, 2016) won the Lannan Cultural Freedom Award for an Especially Notable Book in 2016. She is also editor of “How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective” (Haymarket Books, 2012) which won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBQT nonfiction in 2018.

Today, Taylor is working on new projects, including an investigation of civil rights in the 1980s and a multimedia project with Jennifer Parker in The New York Times.

In addition to her scholarship, Taylor is known for her accessible and engaging talks, essays and opinion pieces. She is a contributing writer and columnist for The New Yorker. Her essays have been published in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review and Jacobin, among other media outlets.

The annual program will develop the commemoration theme: “How Long Must We Wait: Striving for the Beloved Community.”

Highlights of the program include performances by the John Brown Quintet and the United in Praise Gospel Choir, as well as greetings from Duke University President Vincent Price, Duke University Health System President Dr. A. Eugene Washington, Durham Mayor Pro Tempore Mark-Anthony Middleton and Black Student Alliance President Clarke Shead (Trinity ’22). Joshua Crittenden, president of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, will introduce Taylor.

Free parking will be available in the Bryan Center garage at 125 Science Drive. ADA parking is available in the Bryan Center Surface Lot at the same address.

Face masks are required inside the chapel and all Duke buildings, regardless of vaccination status. Read more about campus public health measures at https://returnto.duke.edu/public-health-measures/. The program, streaming from 3 p.m., can be viewed online on the Duke Chapel website.

“We are thrilled to be together in person for this year’s commemoration event and to experience the energy of the program inside the beautiful Duke Chapel,” said Kimberly D. Hewitt, vice president for Duke’s Office for Institutional Equity. “This year we reflect on Dr. King’s true legacy and in particular his urgent call for us to take action now to create the beloved community he envisioned.”

Other campus events include [UPDATED INFORMATION ABOVE]:

  • 11 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 16, Duke Chapel: The Rev. Bruce Puckett, assistant dean of Duke University Chapel, is the preacher during the chapel’s regular worship service, which will include a litany of prayers related to the MLK commemoration. View livestream here.
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jan. 17, Duke School, 3716 Erwin Road, Durham: The Duke community will join in the annual MLK Meal Packaging service event, in partnership with Triangle-area Rotary clubs, Interfaith Food Shuttle and Meals of Hope, striving to package more than 100,000 meals for North Carolina food banks. The start time was moved from 9 to 10 to avoid potentially icy conditions early in the morning. The Duke Office of Durham & Community Affairs lists additional service opportunities here.
  • Noon, Monday, Jan. 17, a virtual Unity Walk with guest speakers, including Duke President Vincent Price, Duke University Head Softball Coach Marissa Young and and Duke student-athletes. Join the event here.

Learn more about this year’s commemoration at http://mlk.duke.edu.