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People of different faiths came together yesterday in the name of Martin Luther King Jr.

The Penn and West Philadelphia communities united to commemorate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in a ceremony featuring speeches from interfaith activist Eboo Patel and Penn President Amy Gutmann. The event was hosted by the Office of the Chaplain and PRISM as part of the Martin Luther King Commemorative Symposium on Social Change, which runs through Feb. 3.

Both Gutmann and Patel invoked the legacy of King to promote tolerance and cooperation.

Quoting King, Gutmann exhorted the Penn community to be “maladjusted” to injustice and to recognize that strength can be drawn from diversity to improve the world. She acknowledged that work remains to be done and that Penn will continue to be “maladjusted.”

In a similar fashion, Patel championed rights for all instead of groupings through race and religion. He defined the American dream as one of universalism, one “in which people of all backgrounds, of all races, of all creeds, of all religions, of all nationalities, come together.”

Patel, who is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, declared the event as an “understanding of Reverend King as an interfaith leader, someone who learned from people of different religious traditions, and brought people from different religious traditions together.”

College junior Umar Sheikh appreciated that the event “incorporated West Philly and the Penn community.” He described Patel’s speech as “inspirational.”

The program recognized the contributions to the West Philadelphia community of individuals whose work embodies King’s legacy. Awards were presented to those who have dedicated their time to the improvement of their community, and in the case of Malik Aziz, on a national scale. Although he acts against all injustice, his work focuses on nonviolence, finding alternatives to incarceration and helping former offenders in the process of reintegrating into society. Aziz recognized Kimg as his mentor.

Awards went to a mix of Penn students, University staff and West Philadelphia activists. Among the recipients was Brooke Hinton, a Wharton senior who has dedicated 10 hours per week for four years to the after-school program of Lea Elementary School. She qualifies her work as “something that she could not have lived without” and felt tremendously honored by the recognition.

The community was treated to a diverse array of artistic performances, including inspiring poetry and music by individual Penn students, the Excelano Project, the New Spirit of Penn Gospel Choir and the Shabbatones. Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture opened the program with Arabic and Turkish compositions.

“Through this event we are able to honor Martin Luther King Jr. through both faith and activism which were both important for him,” said Sean Nadel, College junior and co-chair of PRISM.

This story has been updated to reflect that the event did not mark the end of the Martin Luther King Commemorative Symposium on Social Change, which runs through Feb. 3.

The event was hosted by the Office of the Chaplain and PRISM as part of the , which runs through Feb. 3.

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