MLKAndrew Feldman
The Daily Orange

With the same prowess he displayed on the basketball courts almost 50 years ago playing for the Syracuse Orangemen, Dave Bing served Syracuse University once again as the keynote speaker for the 27th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

On Saturday night, while the men's basketball team was on the road facing Notre Dame, the Carrier Dome hosted the celebration, themed "A Living Legacy: The Fierce Urgency of Now." There were 2,180 seats provided in the Dome for the event, according to a Jan. 19 article in The Daily Orange.

Marissa Willingham, program associate in the Office of Multicultural Affairs and chair of the event, said the underlying purpose of the theme was to continue contributing to King's vision and overall world peace. A soul food dinner was served in accordance with the theme and based on African-American heritage. Bing spoke after the dinner, followed by a presentation of the Unsung Hero Awards and performances by the Dance Theatre of Syracuse and the SU MLK Community Choir.

Bing graduated from SU in 1966 with a bachelor's degree in economics, while also standing out on the basketball court. He earned the first pick of the 1966 NBA Draft to the Detroit Pistons on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Bing was elected as the 62nd mayor of Detroit in May 2009.

In his speech, Bing spoke about his own life on campus and how he felt being a minority in a time where discrimination was rampant and the civil rights movement had only begun to formulate, he said. Bing spoke of the importance of self-acceptance and ways to better the world.

When Bing was recruited to play SU basketball, he was the only black individual on the team. Football players like Ernie Davis, John Mackey and Billy Hunter worked to help recruit Bing to come to SU.

When Bing came to Syracuse from his hometown of Washington, D.C., only about 100 students of the 14,000 who attended the university were colored, and of those, 75 were male, he said.

"Everybody that I lived with and around, played with and against looked just like me. So coming to Syracuse was a new experience in several areas," he said.

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