By Kathryn Kopchik
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Sylvia Mendez, a 2011 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a civil rights activist, will give the keynote talk, "My Legacy: Mendez vs. Westminster," on Tuesday, Jan. 18, at Bucknell University.
The talk is part of Bucknell's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration "Beloved" dinner, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Terrace Room of the Elaine Langone Center.
Dinner tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 7-12, available in the Elaine Langone Center ground-floor mall beginning Jan. 12, or via e-mail at MSS@bucknell.edu.
Civil rights and segregation
Mendez is a civil rights activist of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent. When she was 8 years old, her parents attempted to enroll her in an all-white school in their California community. After being denied entry and told to go to the school for Mexican children, her father and other parents sued. The Mendez v. Westminster case led to a landmark decision in the civil rights movement against segregation. Mendez travels around the country giving speeches on the value of a good education.
The Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The awards will be presented at a White House ceremony early this year.
"These outstanding honorees come from a broad range of backgrounds and they've excelled in a broad range of fields, but all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place," said President Barack Obama. "I look forward to awarding them this honor."
King's Beloved Community
The Beloved Community is a term used by King to describe a global vision in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth, with racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.
"The Beloved Dinner is always a special event that brings together many people from different backgrounds," said Paula Cogan Myers, assistant dean of students and director of International Student Services at Bucknell.
"I hope that our friends and neighbors in the greater community will attend this event as we are all a part of what Dr. King would have envisioned in 'The Beloved Community,'" she said.
MLK Community Service Day
The keynote talk is held in conjunction with Bucknell's MLK Community Day of Service on Jan. 18. About 200 volunteers will work with 11 local agencies. Service projects include teaching lessons to elementary and middle school children, manual labor and clerical work.
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