Attorney, political commentor, and political analyst Angela Rye gave the keynote address at Niagara University’s annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy on Feb. 24, 2021, in the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University. The principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, a political advocacy firm in Washington, D.C., reflected on Dr. King's legacy, finding her voice, and empowering the audience to become champions that advocate for justice even in challenging spaces.

During the event, which was co-sponsored by NU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board, Campus Programming Board, Niagara University Student Government, President's Office, Office of Student Affairs, and Niagara University Opportunity Program, Rye shared the experience of marching with her parents to advocate a national holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King when she was three years old.

“Whether I walk in his shoes as a marcher, as a protester, or I walk in his shoes by standing on his legacy,” she said, she works to “ensure the dream is fulfilled.”

Rye addressed several questions during the moderated conversation, which was preceded by a welcome from the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., Niagara University president, and a performance of the poem, “The Revolution Will Rhyme,” by spoken word artist Jillian Hanesworth.

“If we’re comfortable, we’re not growing,” Rye said, in response to a question about the messages that should be the focus of civil discourse and carry on the true spirit of Dr King. “I think (Dr. King) challenged us in where we go from here, he challenged us in the definition of power, when he says ‘Power is the ability to achieve purpose.’ How do you shift how you perceive power, how you perceive love, how you see a people? When we begin to embody the true spirit of Dr. King, what that means is that we are fierce protectors of what is equitable and just, that we are fierce protectors of righteousness, in doing people right, that it’s never in your pleasure to cause harm to someone else. Those are the kinds of things that we should be striving for.”

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