MLK Was Here

Black History Month Opening Ceremony


MLK Was Here:

Readings and Reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 CBC Massey Lectures Conscience for Change



Photo of Martin Luther King Jr.Details: In honour of Black History Month, Hart House, the Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office, Multi Faith Centre and Massey College are pleased to present this important event reflecting and exploring the words and life of one of North America’s most preeminent speakers, thinkers, activists and social leaders of the 20th century: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



When: Wed., Feb. 12, 2014, 6:30 pm
Where: Great Hall, Hart House
Cost: Free / Register online at



Following the discovery of the Lost Massey Lectures, (edited by Bernie Lucht of CBC Radio Canada’s Ideas) itself a leading and important repository of  many respected Canadian change makers of the day, Dr. King’s speech comes just months before his assassination and leaves us with many questions to explore and pathways for a transformative future.


The presenting partners are pleased to recognize the support of the Office of the President at the University of Toronto and are delighted to announce that President Meric Gertler will be delivering the official Welcome and Opening Remarks on Dr. King as part of the evening. Further remarks will be delivered by Professor Angela Hildyard, Vice President Human Resources and Equity with opening greetings to Hart House by Warden, Professor Bruce Kidd.


In the wake of the loss of globally respected leader and freedom advocate, Nelson Mandela, with forgiveness and reconciliation at the forefront of international politics and policy making, how can Dr. King’s recovered lectures further situate the role of social compassion and action?


Dr. King’s Conscience for Change is a chance for us to revisit our own consciences as a nation and assess our progress, commitment to social change and our ability and willingness to work together towards a common goal.


The evening’s event centres on a number of prolific and thoughtful speakers who bring to light their knowledge, lived experience, critical reflection and unique lens to draw new meaning from Dr. King’s work, while mapping it on to our present day world paying special attention to what we still need to achieve.


What role does the education, social action, and youth today have to offer in re-imagining the world and pushing the agenda for peace and justice? Where is the University situated in this question? Moderated by Associate History Professor and Director of Caribbean Studies, Melanie Newton, the evening will feature readings and reflections by Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Marilyn Legge, former Premier of Ontario and current First Nations Advisor, Bob Rae, student Presidents Vanessa Jev (African Students Association) and Modele Kuforiji (Black Students Association) and Historian, Sheldon Taylor.


Presented in partnership with:


About the Speakers


Moderator | Melanie Newton, Associate History Professor and Director of Caribbean Studies

Melanie Newton received her doctorate in Modern History from Oxford University in 2001. She specializes in the social and cultural history of the Caribbean and the history of slavery, gender and emancipation in the Atlantic World. Recent publications include the preface to Jerome S. Handler, The Unappropriated People: Freedmen in the Slave Society of Barbados (University of the West Indies Press, 2009 [1974]); The Children of Africa in the Colonies: Free People of Color in Barbados in the Age of Emancipation (Baton Louisiana State University Press, 2008); and “The Road Through Africa: Imperial Nationalism and Diasporic Racial Consciousness in Postslavery Barbados,” in John Chalcraft and Yaseen Nourani (eds.), “Counterhegemony in the Colony and Postcolony” (Palgrave, 2007), pp. 115-137. Her current research project is entitled This Island’s Mine: Indigeneity in the Caribbean Atlantic World.
Photo of Meric Gertler

Meric Gertler, President, University of Toronto

Professor Meric Gertler is one of the world’s foremost urban theorists and policy practitioners. He is widely known as an expert on innovation, creativity and culture as drivers of the economic dynamism of city-regions. On November 1, 2013, Professor Gertler began his term as the 16th President of the University of Toronto. Previously, President Gertler served as the Dean of the University’s largest and most diverse academic division, the Faculty of Arts & Science, a position he had held since December 1, 2008. As Dean, his priority was to provide students with a top quality academic experience in which they benefit directly from U of T’s strength and diversity in research and teaching. Professor Gertler is internationally renowned as a distinguished scholar. His research focuses on the geography of innovative activity and the economies of city-regions. He has served as an advisor to local, regional and national governments in Canada, the United States and Europe, as well as to international agencies such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (Paris) and the European Union. He was the founding co-director of the Program on Globalization and Regional Innovation Systems (PROGRIS) at the Munk School of Global Affairs, served as director of the Department of Geography’s Program in Planning, and holds the Goldring Chair in Canadian Studies.
Professor Gertler’s more than 80 journal articles and book chapters have had significant impact in his field and have led him to be one of Canada’s most highly cited geographers. He has held visiting appointments at Oxford University, University College London, UCLA, and the University of Oslo. He won the 2007 Award for Scholarly Distinction from the Canadian Association of Geographers. In May 2012, he was awarded an honorary doctor of philosophy from Lund University, Sweden for his exceptional contributions to the fields of economic geography and regional development. In the same year, he was made an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences (UK).
Photo of Marilyn Legge

Marilyn Legge, Professor of Christian Ethics

Marilyn Legge is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics. She teaches and does research in Christian social ethics and the ways communities are morally and theologically imagined and produced in relation to justice-love, care and responsibility. Her scholarly and teaching interests include methods and decolonizing practices for Christian ethics; feminist, liberation, and postcolonial theological ethics; public vocation of Christian social ethics; Canadian narratives and moral wisdom. Her publications include The Grace of Difference: A Canadian Feminist Theological Ethic (1992) and three co-edited books. She inaugurated the June Callwood Professorship in Social Justice at Victoria College, received the United Church of Canada’s 2010 Davidson Award of Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship, and served as President of the Canadian Theological Society.
Photo of Bob Rae

The Honourable Bob Rae

Bob Rae works as a mediator and arbitrator in Toronto. He has a particular interest in conflict resolution, first nations and aboriginal issues, and governance in both the public and private sectors. He speaks and consults widely on issue of public policy at home and abroad. Since April 2013, Mr. Rae has been acting as an advisor to the Matawa Tribal Council, and since June 2013, he has been acting as the Chairman of the First Nations Limited Partnership in British Columbia. He is a Senior Distinguished Fellow at the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto, and is also a Senior Fellow at Massey College. Bob Rae served as Ontario’s 21st Premier from 1990 to 1995, and was elected eleven times to federal and provincial parliaments between 1978 and 2013. From 1982 to 1996 Bob Rae was leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party and from 2011 to 2013, he served as the Interim Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada at a time of significant restructuring. He resigned from the Parliament of Canada on July 31, 2013.


In 2011, Mr. Rae was named by his colleagues as “Parliamentarian of the Year.” He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Queen’s Counsel, a Privy Councillor, and a Member of the Order of Ontario. Mr. Rae studied History, Politics and Law at the University of Toronto and Balliol College, Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He has been a practicing lawyer since 1980, and from 1996 to 2006 was a Partner at Goodmans LLP in Toronto.
Photo of Vanessa Jev

Vanessa Jev, President, African Students Association

Vanessa Jev is in her fourth year at the University of Toronto and is working to complete a double major in African studies and English literature. She has been a part of the African Students’ Association and is the group’s current President. The ASA is dedicated to the promotion of African culture as well as promoting and increasing the importance of African historical, political, social and economic issues dealing with the continent on the U of T campus.
Photo of Modele Kuforji

Modele Kuforiji, Black Students Association

Modele Kuforiji is in his fourth year at the University of Toronto and is currently completing an English major and double minor in zoology and anthropology. He has been a part of the Black Students Association (BSA) and is this year’s President. He is interested in making the BSA touch the wider community with a special focus on black youth. The BSA organizes an annual high school conference geared towards Black students in Toronto allowing youth in Toronto to have a foothold in university specifically at U of T.
Photo of Sheldon Taylor

Sheldon Taylor

Sheldon Taylor holds a BA from York University, a Masters in Arts (History) from McMaster University and a PhD from the University of Toronto’s History Department for which he has developed, and taught courses relating specifically to African-Canadian history, and the African diasporic experience. Taylor, an historian and a well-known Toronto community worker has spent nearly 30 years working with youth across cultures. He has written on youth, black community, and African diasporic issues and has lectured in Canada, the African continent and the United States. He is the 2011 recipient of the African-Canadian Achievement Award of Excellence in Education and has served on the Heritage Toronto Book Award Jury.


He has curated eight historical exhibitions, including the Canadian government sponsored, Many Rivers To Cross: The National Tour which was opened by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1992 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Additionally, Taylor curated The Ties that Bind, an exhibition detailing aspects of Black-Jewish relations in Toronto. Sheldon Taylor has authored several books, papers, studies and reports, including. He resides in Toronto with his family.

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