‘Heavenly’ MLK Day

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By Elizabeth Nailling

Union’s gospel choir, Heavenly Voices, joined the uplifting celebration at the Albany Convention Center for the annual New York State Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Observance this past Monday.

The event aired on public television across the state of New York so that people in every corner of the state could tune in and commemorate the beautiful life of this astounding and incredibly influential public figure.

The choir opened the ceremony with a wonderfully harmonious rendition of the National Anthem.

“Sing with pride!” whispered choir member and professor Gretchel Hathaway to the rest of the choir before they took their places in front of the crowd and cameras.

That, they did.

The rest of the program included powerful speeches by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who spoke about the need for education reform in New York State to a very compassionate crowd, and H. Carl McCall, the chairman of the SUNY board of trustees.

There were also dramatic and musical presentations performed by various groups from all over the state that expressively represented the intricate culture and struggles of oppressed African Americans who fought for freedom and equality.

The memorial observance closed with an uplifting and energetic performance of the anthem of the movement: “We Shall Overcome.” For this, Heavenly Voices had the honor of joining the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, under the direction of Dennis Edney, in song. The closing piece itself—and the way it was performed—really captured the spirit of hope and joy that enveloped the entire ceremony.

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