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WSSU, Wake Forest celebrates 20th anniversary of MLK Day partnership

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi delivers the keynote address during WSSU and Wake Forest's 20th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. Photo Credit: Lauren Olinger

The Wait Chapel on the campus of Wake Forest University was filled with diverse faces and collaboration during Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) and Wake Forest’s 20th annual celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 20.

“I’m proud to be here with you tonight in this celebration with Wake Forest,” said WSSU Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson. “...If Winston-Salem is going to be a great city, if this is going to be a great region, that region must be led by these two universities. We must come together to show the way.”

The keynote speaker, Ibram X. Kendi, a professor of History and International Relations and the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University delivered the keynote address.

During his speech, Kendi spoke to the crowd about racism and antiracism.

“What makes groups equal is essentially their imperfections…,” said Kendi. “It took me a while to realize that anytime anyone thinks there is something wrong with another person based on that person’s membership with a racial group or even a gender group or any type of group, what that means is that there is something wrong with that person – not any of us.”

The keynote also included greetings from Nathan Hatch, president of Wake Forest University and music from the WSSU gospel choir.

“Building the Dream” Award

From left: Nathan Hatch, president of Wake Forest University; Wake Forest's "Building the Dream" winners  Shannon Ashford, Darlene Starnes, and Neicy Meyers; and WSSU's winners Naviyea Adams and Heather Davis along with Anthony Graham, WSSU provost. 

Earlier in the evening, on WSSU’s campus, WSSU and Wake Forest hosted the “Building the Dream” Award banquet, an annual event that recognizes a faculty or staff member and a student from both institutions who exemplify King’s qualities and promote diversity within the community.

Heather Davis ‘04, assistant dean of Campus Life, and student Naviyea Adams were named WSSU’s 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. “Building the Dream” award winners.

Davis, a WSSU alumna, was recognized for her dedication as a coach, advisor, educator and mentor. Davis oversees the development and coordination of co-curricular campus initiatives, student services and activities that promote the overall personal and professional development and well-being of WSSU students. She also volunteers with the WSSU softball team as an assistant coach and pitching coach.

 Adams, a junior physical education major from Fayetteville, was recognized for his contribution to community service and passion for mentorship, program development and academic achievement. As a WSSU student, he started a secret Santa drive which has impacted over 20 families. Through this project alone, he has raised over $500 to support families in Fayetteville and Charlotte.  Adams also started a bakery business, “Navi’s Sweet Treats,” as a way to give back. On campus, Adams is a campus ambassador. He has led more than 150 tours as a campus tour guide.

Wake Forest’s winners were Shannon Ashford, associate director of diversity education; Darlene Starnes, operations manager, Intercultural Center; and students Liz Torres-Ramirez and Neicy Meyers.

Faculty, staff and students at Wake Forest and WSSU submit “Building the Dream” award nominations for their respective universities and a committee of representatives from each school selects the winners.

Culminating this year's collaborative MLK activities is the 11th annual MLK Read-In, which will be held in WSSU's Donald Julian Reaves Student Activities Center on Jan. 25. 


About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.

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