Award-winning author, educator, and producer Ilyasah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, will deliver the keynote address at Bryant University's annual MLK Legacy Dinner on Thursday, February 16 at 5:45pm (doors open at 5:15pm) as part of Bryant’s celebration of Black History Month. Shabazz will also receive the University’s Rev. Dr. MLK Jr. Legacy Award.
This will be the University’s 4th annual MLK Dinner event, held in honor of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. Previous MLK Legacy keynote addresses include presentations by the civil rights leader’s daughter Bernice King, activist Tamika Mallory, and author and radio host Michael Eric Dyson.
Shabazz’s talk will focus on Martin Luther King’s lasting legacy and diversity, equity, and inclusion today. Registration for the event is required by February 8, click here to sign up.
The Co-Chairperson of the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, Shabazz has dedicated herself to institution building and intergenerational leadership development, following the tenets of diversity, equity, and inclusion. As president and founder of Ilyasah Shabazz Enterprises, she produces a variety of forums dedicated to power, possibility, and sovereignty. She has also authored five historical novels and served as a project advisor for the award-winning PBS documentary, Prince Among Slaves.
"I couldn’t be more proud of the Intercultural Center, Multicultural Student Union (MSU) and many other student organizations who stepped up to put together a diverse array of programs for Black History Month," says Kevin Martins, Ed.D., Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. "Through these programs, we can learn together and celebrate culture and history. Not all of the history is easy to explore, but it is American history and we all benefit from expanding our understanding of the challenges and progress of that history. My hope is through engagement in these programs we can also focus on the present and future of Black people in America."
This year’s MLK Legacy Dinner is co-sponsored by a range of campus partners, including the Multicultural Student Union, Intercultural Cultural Center, Student Programming Board and Center for Student Leadership and Involvement as well as student groups Black Women’s Blueprint, Thrive, the Bryant Players, Bryant PRIDE, TEDxBryantU, the Bryant University Spanish Cultural Organization, W.O.K.E. Athletes, and the Bryant Undergraduate Student Government.
“Ilyasah Shabazz makes a continuing impact on her community by devoting her life’s work to helping others, being an inspirational role model, and advocating for the empowerment of youth and women,” says Brandi Gbemisola, coordinator of Bryant’s Intercultural Center. “She is spreading a message that not only connects with the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. but is a relevant one that resonates with students today.”
Gbemisola notes that Bryant’s students play a key role in choosing the MLK Legacy Dinner’s speaker and organizing the University’s Black History Month events. “Their involvement and commitment show that they are listening and that they understand what is happening in the world around them,” she says.
Shabazz’s speech anchors a range of performances, informational sessions, and events — open to the entire Bryant community — in honor of Black History Month, including:
- Traveling while Black VR Workshop (Feb. 8 from noon-2 p.m. in the Rotunda of the University’s Unistructure), a VR experience that immerses the viewer in the long history of restriction of movement for Black Americans and the creation of safe spaces in our communities.
- Vogue Instruction Class (Feb. 9 at 4 p.m. in the Fisher Center's Pappitto Dining room), an educational presentation on the history of vogue and ballroom culture, followed by a hands-on vogue session led by Natalia Mink, a renowned performer in the Kiki ballroom scene.
- Hair Braiding Workshop (Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. in Room 2C of the Fisher Center), a discussion of the history and significance of hair braiding in the Black community, followed by a special hands-on workshop led by hairstylist Menwon Wongbay.
- UNO Tournament (Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m. in the Fisher Center's Pappitto Dining Room), a community-building competition among friends.
- Till: Dinner and a Movie (Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. in Room 2C of the Fisher Center), a showing of the movie Till: Based on True Story, which recounts Mamie Till-Mobley’s relentlessly pursuit of justice on behalf of her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955.
- Extravaganza 2023 (Feb. 24 in the Multipurpose Athletic Center, doors open at 6 p.m.), Bryant’s award-winning multicultural fashion show highlighting Black History Month, produced each year by the Multicultural Student Union.
- Black Authors Exhibit (Krupp Library), featuring writers including W.E.B. DuBois, Charmaine Wilkerson, and Tia Williams.
For more information about Bryant's Intercultural Center, click here. To learn more about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Bryant, click here.