–Program honoree, Jelani Cobb, PhD—Columbia Journalism School dean and The New Yorker staff writer—to deliver keynote address–

Samara Joy

Queens College will hold its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration on Sunday, January 15, at 3 pm in LeFrak Concert Hall inside the school’s music building. One of the most highly regarded events of its kind in the city, this year’s presentation will honor Jelani Cobb, PhD, dean of the Columbia Journalism School and staff writer for The New Yorker. There will also be a performance—now sold out—by 2023 Grammy-nominee Samara Joy, a jazz singer whose voice has inspired comparisons to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn. Click here to watch Joy’s videos on YouTube and here for publicity photos and background. Directions to Campus Campus Map.

Queens College President Frank H. Wu will host. New York City Council Speaker Adrienne E. Adams, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr., and Assembly Member and alumnus Khaleel Anderson will offer greetings.

“The Queens College community feels an enormous sense of pride in presenting the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration because it is a reaffirmation of our mission in preparing our students to serve as innovative leaders in a diverse world that they make more equitable and inclusive,” says Wu. “They have as their example the ideals embodied by our alumni—among them Andrew Goodman, who was slain, along with fellow civil rights workers James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, in Mississippi in 1964—whose work and extensive civil rights activism is documented in a special collections archive in the Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library on campus.”

The college’s longstanding history of involvement in the struggle for equality and social justice is epitomized by Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, for whom the library’s clocktower is named. King saluted the three young men in 1965 as the inaugural speaker in the college’s John F. Kennedy Memorial Lecture Series in Colden Auditorium, saying, “… it was Queens College that gave to America, and indeed to the world, Andrew Goodman, whose creative witness will certainly live for generations yet unborn. He, along with others, paid the supreme price for this struggle and I’m sure that we will see in many ways that his death was not in vain.”

Cobb, an award-winning essayist and journalist born in Queens, most recently served as an associate professor of history and director of the Africana Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut. His books include The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress as well as To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic. His pieces have appeared in national publications, and he has contributed to a number of anthologies, among them Defense of Mumia, Testimony, Mending the World, and Beats, Rhymes and Life. He is a graduate of Howard University and of Rutgers University where he received a doctorate in American history.Twenty-two-year-old Joy has been nominated for two 2023 Grammy awards for new artist and for jazz vocal album. Her social media presence, combined with appearances on the “Today Show,” “Kelly Clarkson Show,” and “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” has helped introduce jazz standards to a new generation. Adding complexity to her body of work is her use of vocalese, a jazz technique showcased across her album Linger Awhile. Inspired by a jazz transcription class that Joy took with trumpet master Jon Faddis at SUNY Purchase, she wrote her own lyrics to previously recorded improvised jazz melodies.

About Queens CollegeQueens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the college helps its students realize their potential in countless ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college has been cited by Princeton Review as one of America’s Best Value Colleges for five consecutive years, as well as being ranked a U.S. News and World Report Best College and Forbes Magazine Best Value College thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. Visit our homepage to learn more​.

Maria Matteo

Media and College Relations