Annual MLK Observance Provides Inspiring Performances and Messages

January 31, 2024
Submitted By: Office of Marketing and Communication
Photo of the Honorable Richard Robinson speaking at UHart during the MLK Observance
The Honorable Richard Robinson speaking to the audience in Lincoln Theater
photo of UHart musical theatre students performing at the MLK Observance.
Mikala Phillips '27 and Talese Brown '27, both music theatre majors at The Hartt School, performed “Strange Fruit."

A program honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the University of Hartford on Wednesday, Jan. 31, was a fitting kickoff to Black History Month, which continues throughout the month of February.

The observance, with a theme this year of “Love: Hate Is Too Great A Burden to Bear,” drew campus and community members to Lincoln Theater. Guests had a chance to reflect on Dr. King’s work and mission, and be inspired by those who have embodied his spirit through their own service and received Beloved Community Awards.

Each year, the University hosts this observance between MLK Day—a federal and University holiday—in mid-January and the start of Black History Month in February.

Delivering the keynote address was the Honorable Richard A. Robinson, the first African American Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. 

“We are in one of those uneasy periods where national conversations that touch on touchy subjects like religion, race, culture, gender, and sexuality cause us all a great deal of angst," Robinson remarked. "There has been a push back on hard-won achievements that we made over the last few decades. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t concerned about what’s going on.”

This year's program was co-hosted by Maliqa Mosley-Williams, a fourth-year student in the Barney School's accelerated 3+1 program, who completed her undergraduate degree in marketing and is currently working on her MBA with a concentration in business analytics; and Kiara Opoku, a finance major who will receive her undergraduate degree in May and then complete an MBA with a concentration in marketing next fall.

"When we remember Dr. King," Opoku said, "we are not only remembering a great American, but a great person who used words to try and bring people together around the cause of humanity. His message was one of love conquering fear, and good triumphing over evil."

"Our mission each year," Mosley-Williams emphasized, "is to reflect and renew our commitment to his goals of equality, justice and human rights for African Americans, the economically disadvantaged, and all victims of injustice. Dr. King was a social activist who believed that the world could become what he called the 'Beloved Community.'''

As in each of the 19 years that an MLK Observance program has been held on campus, a range of performances inspired the audience. Included this year were original monologues performed by fifth-grade students from the University of Hartford Magnet School; poetry written and performed by Opoku; and performances by vocal, composition, and music theatre students at The Hartt School.

“From my perspective," said Justice Robinson, "Dr. King’s greatest attributes can be summarized in three phases—he inspired, he persisted, he kept his faith.”