President Gregory J. Vincent ’83 — a former civil rights attorney and law professor and a national expert on diversity and inclusion — will offer the keynote address that will highlight a series of events planned by the HWS and Geneva community in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Just as many of the injustices Dr. King struggled against persist today, so too does his legacy of civic engagement, public service and advocacy for the dignity of all people,” says Vincent. “Hobart and William Smith are proud of our ongoing work on campus and with our community partners to bring Dr. King’s message, in our words and deeds, to life.”
Prior to joining HWS as president in 2017, Vincent served at The University of Texas at Austin as vice president for diversity and community engagement, W.K. Kellogg Professor of Community College Leadership and Professor of Law. In 2016, he served as spokesperson for UT in the case of Fisher V. University of Texas, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold the use of affirmative action in higher education. Vincent also served as the assistant attorney general in Ohio, where he successfully argued several major civil rights cases before the state’s Supreme Court.
Vincent’s keynote address, which is open to the public, will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Vandervort Room. The talk will explore the parallels between civic service and social justice underscored by Dr. King’s life and work.
The annual MLK Day march was held on Jan. 15 when all members of the Geneva community were invited to participate in the city’s 47th annual Martin Luther King Jr. March and Memorial Service. Participants marched from the Geneva Public Safety Building on Exchange Street to the First United Methodist Church on Main Street for a service that celebrated the life and teachings of Dr. King.
At the service, former pastor at the Baber African Methodist Episcopal Church in Rochester, Dr. Norvel Goff, was the featured speaker. A graduate of Colgate Rochester Divinity School and Yale University School of Divinity, Goff has led the NAACP branches in Hartford, Conn., and Rochester, N.Y. In 2015, he became the interim pastor of Emanuel AME in Charleston, S.C., after the tragic death of the senior pastor and several church members; he currently serves as the presiding elder of the 7th Episcopal District AME Church in Richland County, S.C.
HWS students participated in the March, worship service and choir, and then volunteered at the luncheon following the service. “We want the MLK Day of Service to be an opportunity for students to come together with local residents and reflect on the meaning of the holiday,” said Associate Director of Community Engagement and Service Learning Jeremy Wattles.
“We took a step back this year and asked ourselves what it means to participate in civil service,” said co-president of HWS Day of Service Dominique DeRubeis ’18. “We’re excited to come together with the people of Geneva to participate in memorial services and to be a part of the discussion of how to continue Dr. King’s legacy in our community.”
On Monday, Jan. 22, a discussion over dinner titled, “One Beloved Community: Dinner and Conversation” will highlight the significant work of the local groups who carry on King’s work. Sponsored by the offices of President and Intercultural Affairs at HWS, the event will be held in the Common Room of the Scandling Campus Center. Invited to the forum are the members and leaders of Geneva’s Martin Luther King Committee, NAACP, African American Men’s Association, Tools for Social Change, Geneva Community Compact, Interfaith Community, Finger Lakes Solidarity and the Human Rights Commission. The public is invited and should RSVP by Tuesday, Jan. 16 at firstname.lastname@example.org to attend.