Queens College Martin Luther King Jr. Day Commemoration on Sunday, January 14, Focused on Engaging Youth and Dr. King’s Enduring Connection to the College

 –Honoree Jennifer Jones Austin, Esq., CEO and Executive Director, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, delivered the keynote address; speakers included U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and New York State Senator John Liu; prospective students attended an admissions resource fair before the event–

Flushing, New York, January 23, 2024—Queens College held its annual celebration of the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Sunday, January 14, in its LeFrak Concert Hall on campus. The event featured guest speakers, musical performances, and the premiere of the latest episode in the college’s docuseries on Dr. King’s connection to the college. Queens College President Frank H. Wu recognized Jennifer Jones Austin, Esq., CEO and executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), with the college’s 2024 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award. Jones Austin also delivered the keynote address. Watch the commemoration ceremony here. A highlights video is available here.

“Here at Queens College, we are constantly striving to stay true to Dr. King’s vision of a just society,” Wu said. “We have always felt a special connection to Dr. King since he first spoke on our campus in 1965 as part of the inaugural John F. Kennedy Lecture Series. Nearly 60 years later, many things have changed, but his words remain as true as ever. Our society has improved in many ways, and King’s work along with the efforts of countless others, paved the way for that.”

Speakers included U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and New York State Senator John Liu. Queens College Student Association President William Baron and Queens College Black Student Union President Makayla Noble brought greetings. The Queens College Treble Chorus, conducted by Morgan Jolley, Ithaca professor of Music Education, and accompanied by pianist Russell Paul, performed. Prior to the commemoration ceremony, at 12 pm, the college hosted an admissions resource fair in the Dining Hall to offer prospective students the opportunity to learn about degree programs, admissions procedures, and financial aid options.

Jones Austin is a fourth-generation faith and social justice leader who fights for equity. FPWA is an anti-poverty, policy, and advocacy organization with 170 member agencies and faith partners; significant social policy changes brought about under Austin’s leadership have empowered the disenfranchised and marginalized. Her approach links an understanding of race, poverty, law, and social policy in America and the role of religion. Please click here for Austin’s full bio.

“Being recognized with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award by Queens College, an institution that has been the bedrock for thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers, ensuring them meaningful access and opportunity to brighter futures, is a tremendous honor,” Jones Austin said. “Appreciating that Queens College not only celebrates annually the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but embraces the very essence of his dream in their educational offerings fills me with both joy and humility to be considered worthy of this award.”

Queens College has a longstanding history of involvement in the struggle for equality and social justice. In 1964, Queens College student Andrew Goodman was slain, along with fellow civil rights workers James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, during a voter registration project in Mississippi. The following spring, as the inaugural speaker in the college’s John F. Kennedy Memorial Lecture Series, Dr. King emphasized the power of peaceful resistance. Click here to listen to segments of Dr. King’s 1965 speech at Queens College. In 2015, at its 91st commencement ceremony—and fifty years after Dr. King’s address—the college awarded a posthumous honorary doctoral degree to Goodman. Watch the docuseries, Legacy Connection: QC & Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., including the latest episode, Heroes in Harm’s Way: Dr. King and Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, here.


Maria Matteo

Media and College Relations