Three Students Selected as MLK Student Voices Award Winners

Photographs, poetry, and an essay are the winning contributions in celebration of Dr. King’s legacy

In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a series of lectures ultimately published as The Trumpet of Conscience, a collection that issues a pressing call for justice in the face of racism, war, and privation.

This year, the urgency of King’s call informs the university’s annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, entitled “‘We Don’t Have Much Time’: Raising Consciousness and Building the Future Now.” The celebration’s title comes from a quote from The Trumpet of Conscience: “But we do not have much time. The revolutionary spirit is already world-wide. If the anger of the peoples of the world at the injustice of things is to be channeled into a revolution of love and creativity, we must begin now to work, urgently, with all the peoples, to shape a new world.”

That call for justice by King, in turn, inspired the question put to students submitting to the MLK Student Voices Award, a program now held in conjunction with the celebration.

Whether through essays, poems, songs, art, or performance, participants in the Student Voices Award program were invited to submit responses to the question, "What does love and creativity look like for you in the service of action for love and justice?"

Three students have been selected as the 2023 winners of the MLK Student Voices Award:

A portrait photographer based in Boston, Andrew Harris, A26, was born in Liberia and moved to the United States at age nine. In addition to accolades from the National YoungArts Foundation and the Scholastic Art Awards, Harris was also named a winner of The New York Times annual student photo contest and was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts in 2021. Harris wrote in his winning Student Voices submission that his photos were designed to “celebrate and uplift our power, beauty, resilience and, ultimately, voices.”

Marsha Germain, A25, was born in Jérémie, Haiti and immigrated to the United States at age five. She is a double-major in biopsychology and civic studies on the pre-law track. Germaine’s poem, “Little Black Woman,” was selected by committee because it “exude[d] a powerful love for Black women and the urgent need to celebrate and sustain ones who are, as Germain wrote in her introduction to the poem, ‘the foundation of the community and exist on the frontlines of justice.’” Germaine is the president of the Spoken Word At Tufts (S.W.A.T.) Underground Poetry organization.

Ayomide Oloyede, A25, is from Columbus, Georgia, and is a major in international relations and civic studies. His Student Voices submission, the spoken poem, “I Wish for a Rose in a Garden,” was chosen by the selection committee for its creative expression of the spirit within the prompt for this year’s competition. His poem, in Oloyede’s words, lifts up the “idea of recognizing one’s struggle and using it as a mirror for others to reflect and learn to find the beauty in the struggle, regardless of their circumstances.”

In addition to showcasing the winners of the MLK Student Voices Award winners and other Tufts student artists and musicians, this year’s celebration will feature a keynote address by Professor of Africana Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Régine Michelle Jean-Charles of Northeastern University. Jean-Charles is the author of Martin Luther King and the Trumpet of Conscience Today and director of Africana Studies and Dean’s Professor of Culture and Social Justice at Northeastern.

The 2023 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Celebration will be held on Monday, January 30, 5:30-7:00 p.m. in Breed Memorial Hall. The event will also be available virtually.

This celebration is co-hosted by the Africana Center, Tisch College of Civic Life, and the University Chaplaincy. The event is sponsored by the President's Office, with additional support from the Provost’s Office, the Department of History, the Department of Romance Studies, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

On Saturday, February 4, the University Chaplaincy’s Interfaith Ambassador Team will welcome students across the University to the MLK Day of Community Action for a day of reflection, learning, and action for justice and community.

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