In honor of the 29th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Week for Peace, approximately 150 guests, including students, faculty and staff, gathered in the Xavier University Ballroom on Thursday, January 22, to celebrate King’s legacy that lives on in young community leaders and activists. Michael Skolnik, who has led national conversations about the death of Trayvon Martin and America’s relationship with race, delivered a keynote address about the political and social activism of his generation.

The Martin Luther King Week for Peace is a collaboration among Dillard, Loyola, Tulane and Xavier University promoting the dream, life and legacy of King under the slogan “New Faces of the Dream.”

The presidents of each participating university presented their community service awards to individual students who embody the principles, ideologies and standards of King. The Lifetime Achievement Award was renamed after its recipient, Xavier’s president, Dr. Norman C. Francis. As a representative of young civil rights activists, Skolnik shared his thoughts on the national dialogue about race relations and the role of the mediain his speech “The Revolution will not be Televised or Tweeted.”

Skolnik’s 2012 essay titled, “White People, You Will Never Look Suspicious Like Trayvon Martin” was shared over 190,000 times on Facebook and was credited as one of the catalysts of bringing that story to national attention.

Skolnik is very passionate about what he does and he knows how to reach young people with his charisma,” Francis said. Students like Amanda Ware, a sophomore at Xavier, felt deeply connected to Skolnik’s message. “He was very intriguing and not afraid to convey honest insights about race relations in the United States,” she said.

The recent killings of unarmed black males and the following protests have reignited the debate about race relations in the United States. Blacks still earn less money, graduate from college at lower rates and are imprisoned at disproportionally higher rates than whites.

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