As part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day festivities, Georgetown students and community members partook in the “Let Freedom Ring” event at the Kennedy Center on Monday.
Georgetown University, in partnership with the Kennedy Center, co-sponsored the event as a commemoration of King. Tickets were distributed through a lottery system and students who received tickets listened to the musical stylings of Grammy Award-winning artist India.Arie and the Let Freedom Ring Celebration Choir.
“It was a momentous and unforgettable experience to perform awe-inspiring music in an awe-inspiring venue,” Mary Grace (COL ’13) said.
“[We were] surrounded by musicians and public figures in celebration of the life of one awe-inspiring man. It was certainly an opportunity I would not have otherwise had.”
As part of the festivities, Dikembe Mutombo (FLL ’91), NBA legend and former Georgetown men’s basketball player, was presented with this year’s John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award. The award’s previous recipients include Rosa Parks (posthumously, in 2006) and Colin Powell in 2005.
Attendees were surprised by the appearance of President Obama, who spoke about King and Mutombo.
“It was a cultural [and] enriching experience that made me extremely proud to be a Hoya,” Maggie Larkin (COL ’13) said. “Not only was the choir scattered with Hoyas, but President Obama, [University] President [John J.] DeGioia and John Thompson Jr. were all there to pay tribute to a Georgetown alum [Mutombo], who is really making a difference in the world.”
The event not only celebrated a great American leader, but allowed students to reflect on what it means to be a member of the Georgetown community and seek change in the world.
“Everything about the whole night was amazing,” Suzanne Fonzi (COL ’13) said. “We heard Dikembe Mutombo and the president speak. We represented well – Ryan Wilson (COL ’12) and President DeGioia gave great speeches and our choir members did a great job. I’ve never been so proud to be a Georgetown student.”
Obama concluded the evening by offering a final reflection on the late King.
“Let us remember the courage of the man who had that dream. Let us remember the perseverance of all those who have worked to fulfill that dream. Let us recommit ourselves to doing our part, in our own lives and as a nation, to make that dream real in the 21st century,” Obama said.
“Seeing Obama that close was an awesome experience,” Larkin said. “I came to Georgetown for experiences like this.”