MLK's daughter, Grammy-winner singer to mark King celebration


January 12, 2016

SUNY Oswego’s Jan. 29 Martin Luther King Jr. celebration will feature Bernice A. King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and chief executive of the King Center, and Grammy-winning gospel singer Smokie Norful. As of Jan. 28, the event was sold out.

The college’s 27th annual celebration of the civil rights leader’s life and legacy will begin with Bernice King’s keynote talk at 6 p.m. in Hewitt Union ballroom. (Note location change.) Norful and a gospel choir will perform an 8 p.m. concert in the same location.

The evening’s events will be free and open to the public, but tickets will be required due to anticipated demand.

The youngest daughter of Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King, Bernice King began her career as an orator speaking at the United Nations in place of her mother at age 17. She has brought her motivating messages to such places as the White House, Lincoln Memorial and major universities, as well as around the world in locations including South Africa, Germany and New Zealand.

She continues her family’s legacy in countless ways, including spearheading the August 2013 “Let Freedom Ring and Call to Action” event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and her father’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. As CEO of the King Center, she continues to educate youth and adults on the nonviolence principles modeled and promoted by her parents.

She is a graduate of Spelman College and earned a master’s degree in divinity and a juris doctor degree from Emory University.

“The pride and treasure of our nation is our youth,” she says in her speaker’s biography. “Any nation that neglects the teaching and the upbringing of its youth is a nation on the decline.”

King will offer an 8 p.m. book signing in Hewitt Bookland, near the ballroom.

Singer, humanitarian performing

Norful has produced three chart-topping albums in “I Need You,” “Nothing Without You” and “Smokie Norful Live.” He earned a Grammy for Contemporary Soul Gospel Album of the Year in 2005 for “Nothing Without You,” and then picked up another Grammy in 2015 for Best Song/Performance of the Year for “No Greater Love.”

In addition to his recording career, Norful serves as senior pastor at Victory Cathedral Worship Center, a church he founded in Bolingbrook, Illinois, in 2005. Norful also dedicates time toward humanitarian causes, including his church’s “Give Yourself Away” initiative encouraging generosity in donating time, talent and other resources.

SUNY Oswego students began picking up tickets Jan. 25 at the Marano Campus Center box office. Tickets were available at the same location beginning Jan. 27 for SUNY Oswego faculty and staff and starting Jan. 28 for members of the general public.

For more information, call 312-3214 or email