Students, faculty and staff gathered in the Chapel for Vassar’s fourth annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, honoring four members of the Vassar community for work in the spirit of Dr. King.  Residence hall guards Betty Graham (later known as Betty Francis) and Genie Thrasher received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Presidential Citation for Excellence.  “The Lord gave me two things,” said Graham, an employee of 13 years, in her acceptance speech, “he gave me two wonderful parents, and he gave me you, my extended family.”  Graham thanked the faculty (“my special friends”) and students (“my little loved ones”).  Students Tanya Odom ’92 and Elizabeth Meyer ’91 were recognized for their work with local social service organizations in Vassar’s Beyond the Gates program. 

The ceremony featured performances by the Vassar College Gospel Choir and the Ebony Theatre Ensemble.  Professor of Sociology, Africana Studies and Religion Lawrence Mamiya stood in for the scheduled keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Oscar L. McLaughlin, who was delayed because of traffic.  In his impromptu speech, Mamiya recalled his experiences with voter registration with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Georgia during the 1960s.