Important Info for Joining Us on Sunday!

Here’s some important information if you’re joining us for our MLK event this evening!

Free parking is available in the Irving Avenue Garage and in lots west of the JMA Dome. Visit the University’s Parking and Transit Services website for maps and directions.

Enter the Dome in Gates A, B, C, E, and N

American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) will be available for the event. Accessible seating is provided on the concourse level of the JMA Wireless Dome.

All are welcome, regardless of clothing choice! Some will choose to dress up, some will be in business casual clothing, and some in jeans. Again, all are welcome!

4:15 – 6:30 MLK Art Gallery in Club 44

5:00 – 6:30 Traditional Dinner in the Dome

7:00 38th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

Syracuse University to Present Art Exhibit at The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

Syracuse University’s 38th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will include, for the first time, an art exhibit in the Club 44 VIP lounge on the upper level of the JMA Wireless Dome.

To express the celebration theme of “Civil Rights and the City of Syracuse,” three local artists were selected to show their works in the specially constructed gallery, which will be open to the public on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, before and during the traditional celebration dinner. The art gallery will open at 4:15 p.m. and the dinner will begin at 5 p.m. For more information, visit

The exhibition will spotlight artists Jaleel Campbell, Jessica McGhee ’19 and Vanessa Johnson. Curators for the exhibition include Qiana Williams and Cjala Surratt of the Black Artists’ Collective; Ken Harper, associate professor of visual communications and art curator in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications; and Hendricks Chapel staff.


Jaleel Campbell’s passion for creating knows no bounds. Whether it be through illustration work that showcases the often underrepresented, video work that captures the beauty and essence of Black life and culture, or handmade dolls that aim to honor and acknowledge African traditions, there is no limit to his creativity. “I create work that reminds Black people of their worth; even when the world becomes too heavy,” he says.

Jessica McGhee, originally from Los Angeles, California, moved to Syracuse in 2008. She earned her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Syracuse University in 2019 and is currently enrolled in the University’s Creative Arts Therapy M.S. program. Her primary medium is painting, though she works in a variety of media. McGhee works therapeutically and believes strongly in art’s nonverbal ability to communicate, heal and transform the self in ways that impact the overall well-being of its creator. She is currently the arts programming coordinator and an instructor at the University’s La Casita Cultural Center.

Vanessa Johnson is a griot (storyteller) in the West African tradition. She is also a writer, playwright, actor, fiber artist, museum consultant, community activist, historian, educator. and teaching artist. Johnson received the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Creatives Rebuild NY Grant for 2022-24. At Onondaga Historical Association, Johnson used her storytelling talents to tell the history of Onondaga County and she has been teaching in school programs since 2005. Presently, Johnson teaches at Syracuse University’s Community Folk Art Center and is the artist-in-residence for the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation

“We are excited for this year’s participants to celebrate the richness of Syracuse’s culture and beauty…and there’s no juicier way to do that than through art,“ says Harper, who has been on the MLK Event Planning Committee for the past three years. “We hope to expand the gallery next year to include collaborations with additional local artists, the Community Folk Art Center and the Syracuse University Art Museums.”

Tickets for the dinner and program, which will include student and community group performances, presentation of the Unsung Hero Awards and a keynote address from the Rev. Phil Turner, are now available.

“Lexical Priming” by Jessica McGhee
By Jaleel Campbell
“Hye Won Hye” by Vanessa Johnson

Syracuse University Student Malique Lewis Featured on Inspiration For The Nation To Promote MLK Celebration

The 38th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will be held on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023!

Happy New Year from Inspiration for the Nation! This week’s guest is Malique Lewis: the student co-chair of the Syracuse University Martin Luther King Jr. Committee and co-founder of the Black Student Union on campus. Watch now to hear him speak on why he believes the King dinner and legacy can build community.

Rev. Phil Turner to Highlight Local Community as Speaker for 38th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

Reverend Phil Turner of Bethany Baptist Church in Syracuse will serve as featured speaker at the 38th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in the JMA Wireless Dome at Syracuse University.

This year’s theme is: “Civil Rights and the City of Syracuse.” Tickets for the dinner and program are now available.

portrait of Reverend Phil Turner in Hendricks Chapel

Reverend Phil Turner (Photo by Amelia Beamish)

This annual event is the largest of its kind on any college campus. The program seeks to honor the message and mission of Dr. King and is a direct expression of Syracuse University’s commitment to advancing academic excellence at a university welcoming to all.

“As we prepare for our first in-person MLK Celebration since 2020, our planning team is committed to highlighting the people and possibilities of our local community,” says the Rev. Brian Konkol, dean of Hendricks Chapel. “I am honored to welcome Pastor Phil Turner as our featured speaker, as he embodies the spirit and soul of Syracuse. Through his proven leadership and hopeful vision, Pastor Turner is the right person to bring us all together.”

Turner was elected as the 12th pastor of Bethany Baptist Church on Feb. 19, 2007. Following his formal installation in April of 2007, he helped expand congregational impact through membership growth, facility renovations, increased access to transportation services, and improved engagement with civic organizations and community organizers. Turner led the development of a radio ministry, tutoring program and an annual festival that highlights African American heritage. Bethany Baptist Church also partners with the Syracuse City School District, sponsors clothing giveaways, and hosts numerous local and regional events.

In addition to earning music recording contracts with Warner Bros. and 4th and Broadway, Turner holds a bachelor of science in history and political science from Columbia College, a master of theological studies from Northeastern Seminary and a certificate in church management from Villanova University.

“When Dr. King spoke, his words were so piercing because they came from truth, his inner light and compassion,” says Rev. Turner. “We must accept the challenge to make everyone’s lives better. Leaders need to have a healthy appetite for change. They can’t be afraid.”

Our 2023 program marks the 38th year for the MLK Celebration, which will include an address from Turner, student and community group performances, a presentation of this year’s Unsung Hero Awards, and recognition of the 2022 and 2021 Unsung Hero Awardees previously honored through online celebrations.

New this year is an art gallery featuring works from local Black artists,  opening at 4:15 p.m. The traditional dinner—pulled BBQ pork, collard greens, sweet potato pie and more—will open at 5 p.m. Halal/Kosher, gluten-free and vegetarian options will be available. Dinner will be held near the JMA Dome’s west end zone, entry at Gate A. The main program with Rev. Turner and performers will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the east side. For program-only attendees, doors open at 6 p.m.

Ticket purchase options are as follows:

  • Syracuse University staff, faculty, and the general public (dinner and program): $30
  • Students (dinner and program): $15
  • Main program only: FREE

Registration is required for all ticket purchase options.

All dinner tickets will be assigned a table number at the time of purchase, which will be included in the mobile tickets. Guests interested in sitting with friends are recommended to purchase tickets together to ensure the same table assignment.

Guests may order up to 10 dinner and program tickets online. To purchase one full table (10 seats), select 10 total tickets and proceed to checkout. To purchase more than one table or more than 10 individual tickets, or if experiencing difficulties, please call the JMA Dome Box Office at 1.888.DOME.TIX (315.443.2121), option four.

All dinner guests will be seated in the 100 level of the stands for the program following dinner. All guests attending the program only will be seated in the 200 level. Seating is general admission in those areas for the program.

Buy tickets online at, in person at the Dome Box Office inside Gate B at 900 Irving Ave. (Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or by phone (888.DOME.TIX or 315.443.2121, option four). Tickets will be mobile this year and uploaded directly to your MyCuse account to manage upon purchase. View the step-by-step guide on mobile ticketing for more information.

Free parking is available in the Irving Avenue Garage and in lots west of the JMA Dome. Visit the University’s Parking and Transit Services website for maps and directions. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) will be available for the event. Accessible seating is provided on the concourse level of the JMA Dome.

For more information about the MLK Celebration or to request accommodations, contact Hendricks Chapel at or 315.443.2901. Learn more about this and other Hendricks Chapel events by visiting

Nominate an Unsung Hero for the 2023 Celebration

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., through his writings and his speeches, challenged all of us to find the courage to create positive change in a troubled world. He taught us the importance of listening to and learning from others. He shared his dream, offering a glimpse of what was possible. He inspired generations to chart a course of action, to have real impact. Every year at the MLK Celebration, a group of Unsung Heroes is honored by Syracuse University for their selfless dedication to their community and for embodying the vision of Dr. King.

Nominations for the 2023 Unsung Hero Awards are now open and are due at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. 

The Unsung Hero Awards are presented annually to people who, in the spirit of King’s “beloved community,” have made a positive difference in the lives of others, but who are not widely recognized for their efforts. To be eligible for this award, nominees should not have received widespread recognition or been previously honored for their efforts, and their work should be ongoing and outside their normal job/student expectations.

Nominations may be made in any of the following categories:

  • youth/teen from Onondaga, Madison, Oswego, Cayuga or Cortland counties
  • adult from Onondaga, Madison, Oswego, Cayuga or Cortland counties
  • student at Syracuse University or SUNY-ESF
  • faculty or staff from Syracuse University or SUNY-ESF

Nominate a Hero

For questions regarding Unsung Hero Awards, please contact Hendricks Chapel at

View previous Unsung Hero Award winners on our webpage.

1965 Recording of Dr. King at SU

In July 1965 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited the campus of Syracuse University and spoke at Sims Hall. He was introduced by his longtime friend and Syracuse faculty member Dr. Charles Willie. This recording of his speech comes from the Syracuse University Archives.