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Tufts University’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium- “Cashing Our Promissory Note: Race, Justice & Reparation”

Wednesday, February 3 | 5 – 6:30 PM | Virtual Event

The 2021 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium will focus on the theme of “Cashing Our Promissory Note: Race, Justice, and Reparation,” based on the powerful excerpt from the Rev. Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington in 1963. Author, historian, and journalist, Jelani Cobb, will give the keynote address at this year’s symposium. Cobb is the Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism at Columbia University as well as staff writer for The New Yorker, where he writes about race, politics, and injustice. He is well known for his prominently featured role in Ana Duvernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary “13th” about the mass incarceration of Black Americans. He is also the author of several books, including “Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress,” “To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic,” and “The Devil & Dave Chappelle and Other Essays.” Cobb was the producer and correspondent of PBS Frontline’s investigative series “Policing the Police,” for which he was awarded the Walter Bernstein Award from the Writer’s Guild of America in 2017.

“In a sense, we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.  This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the in-alienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.” — Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963 

This event is sponsored by the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, the Chief Diversity Officer, the Tisch College of Civic Life, the University Chaplaincy, the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and the Africana Center at Tufts University. Every year, event sponsors work with a committee of faculty, staff, and students to organize Tufts University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Observances. Together, the committee develops programming that celebrates, reflects on, and seeks to continue the work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

To learn more about the MLK Jr. Symposium program, visit:

Registration here.

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