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Sanchez, Estes Inspire as University Celebrates MLK Day

CFA prof salutes King with favorite hymn

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Click above to watch images from BU’s celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., and hear CFA Professor Simon Estes sing.

Themes of peace, love, and resistance resounded throughout Metcalf Hall as Boston University faculty, staff, students, and alumni celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr., Day with words and music on Monday, January 21. A rousing call for peace from poet, playwright, and activist Sonia Sanchez and two performances by renowned bass-baritone Simon Estes, a professor of music at the College of Fine Arts, were the event’s highlights.

Spectators of all ages and races were brought to their feet frequently throughout the program, which also featured performances by the Inner Strength Gospel Choir, Jonathan Chin (CAS’07), a recent graduate and spoken word artist, Allison Ritts, the senior administrative secretary of the Howard Thurman Center, and a number of CFA student performers. Dale Andrews, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Professor of Homiletics and Pastoral Theology at the School of Theology, and Jeremy Yudkin, a CFA associate professor of musicology, also spoke at the event, titled Ode to the Common People.

Sanchez, winner of an American Book Award for her collection Homegirls & Handgrenades, author of more than a dozen books of poetry, and recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Award and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, drew perhaps the loudest cheer of the afternoon after she urged her audience to resist all temptations to fight and hate. “I woke up this morning with my eyes on Martin,” she said. “And I’m going to resist just like him.”

Estes, who earlier in the program had performed one of King’s favorite songs, Thomas A. Dorsey’s “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” returned to the stage to thank Sanchez for touching his heart, before launching into a special impromptu performance of Nat King Cole’s “When I Fall in Love.”

Edward A. Brown can be reached at ebrown@bu.edu.

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