In honor of Martin Luther King Jr’s speech at NYU on February 10th, 1961, the university is hosting a week of events, discussions, and service. The crowning event of MLK Week at NYU is 7 Issues, 7 Leaders, 7 Minutes. This Thursday at 7pm in Kimmel’s E&L Auditorium, seven leaders in various fields will talk for seven minutes on a topic surrounding the theme “The Future of Diversity: Here & Now.”
Since this is NYU and John Sexton has the ability to seduce smart people into coming here, the speakers are none to be trifled with. According to the official press release, we can confirm that Dr. Cornel West, also known as The Greatest Professor Ever in The History of Everything, will spend his seven minutes on the topic of activism. Pamela Newkirk, NYU professor of journalism, will represent the home team and speak on the issue of media. Not only that, Jack Tchen, founding director of NYU’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute and co-founder of the Museum of Chinese in America, will receive the coveted MLK Jr. Humanitarian Award.
Of course, any important event features a ridiculously talented student who we all wonder where she got the time to be talented when we’re partying at Club Bobst. In the middle of the seven-speaker set, Slam NYU member and Tisch sophomore Aziza Barnes will perform two poems: “brown girl” and “United States Birth Certificate Speaks to an Immigrant Family,” featuring James Livengood, CAS ’14, on violin.
“The two poems are about how race is perceived by America, and how the conception of otherness is built,” says Barnes. “The topic in my poem ‘brown girl’ is the affect of passing in America. that’s not talked about contemporarily, and that’s scary because you are at risk of losing your history.”
Although she gets to perform on one of NYU’s biggest stages, Barnes knows where she stands among the intellectual greats. “I deeply and am humbled to be performing in such a roster… Who the fuck am I to these people? These are great people. I feel very small.” When asked what she’d do when she meets Dr. West for the first time, she smiles. “I’ll probably freak out, and be very talkative and gush. Apart from being my fashion icon, he’s also my hero.” We would too.
According to the event’s EventBrite page, it is totally sold out. We’ve contacted Program Administrator Selima Jumarali, and we’ll update you on the status of the event as we receive new information. Perhaps they will Livestream it.