Community members gathered at Grand Rapids’ Fountain Street Church on Monday, January 15, to honor the life and legacy of visionary leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and reflect on the journey toward justice and equality that Dr. King fought so hard for.
The 38th Annual Commemoration took place on what would have been King’s 95th birthday and included singing, speeches and the presentation of scholarships.
Keynote speaker Melissa Harris-Perry is a political science professor and highly acclaimed author. She spoke about many aspects of King’s life, his tireless work towards equality and how he is relevant today.
“Inequality persists,” she said. “But what does that tell us about the relevance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Perhaps the relevance of Dr. King is his foundational influence on the political strategies of Black American communities.”
She went on to say that his relevance is rooted in the very way we celebrate each other.
The winner of Davenport’s Inherit the Dream scholarship was also announced. This year’s winner, Ariel Nathan, is a senior from North County High School in Maryland. She will study computer science and is thankful for being chosen as this year’s winner.
“I hope to help small companies and businesses create a social presence for themselves through websites and apps that I create and would also like to help Nigeria transition into the new age of technology,” Nathan said.
The event was co-sponsored by Davenport University, Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University.
The event featured a Q and A style conversation between Harris-Perry and President Pappas.
Davenport’s annual MLK Day essay contest winners were also announced. First place was awarded to Monique Clintsman, MSN graduate student in the family nurse practitioner concentration program. Second place was awarded to Jonae Jackson, nursing major. The theme of this year’s contest focused on how efforts to achieve a more just and equitable society continues today and how each of us can play a part in honoring Dr. King’s legacy.