Saint Louis University

Biondi, S.J.
University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J., speaks at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Tribute Friday in Busch Student Center. Photo by Danielle Lacey

More than 200 people attended Saint Louis University's tribute to the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Friday. at Busch Student Center. Hosted by Human Resources, the commemoration featured live music, a recitation of King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech and award presentations for local St. Louis leaders who exemplify King's ideals.

University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J., Vice President of Mission and Ministry Paul Stark, S.J., and Vice President of Human Resources Ken Fleischmann, J.D., all spoke at the event, as well as leaders and activists from the St. Louis community.

During his invocation, Biondi reminded audience members that the work King began remains unfinished. He spoke of the various SLU activities that work toward King's goal of a more just and compassionate society.

"In all of our outreach activities as we strive to right our world, to empower the powerless, we live Dr. King's vision and our Jesuit mission," he said.

Vice President of Mission and Ministry Paul Stark, S.J., revealed the parallel ideals and values King shared with St. Ignatius of Loyola, despite the nearly 400 years that separated them.

"Both men ignited generations with their words and their deeds," Stark said. "Each was an inspired presence who continues to light a passion in people to bring about real and significant change."

Other area leaders who spoke at the tribute included Alderman Terry Kennedy of the 18th Ward in the City of St. Louis, Rabbi Randy Fleisher of the Central Reform Congregation and Sammie Jones of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, who delivered the keynote address. All of the speakers were recognized for their work in the areas of diversity and equality with glass sculptures.

University employee Anita Jackson sang during the program. Jackson works in the University's Information Technology Services department.

A highlight of the program included the presentation of an award to the family of the late Donald Brennen by Karla Scott, Ph.D., of the department of African American Studies. Brennan, a SLU alumnus, professor and former dean, who was known for his commitment to enhancing diversity at the University, passed away in November 2011.