Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson joined other local leaders to commemorate the life and legacy of late civil rights icon Judge Damon Keith at the 37th annual African World Festival on Sunday, Aug. 18.
Recalling the jurist as a “brilliant man, a committed and courageous man,” Wilson said Keith, who passed away in April, was a singular figure who made an impact on the nation collectively and on him personally.
“Such men are in high demand, but in short supply,” added Wilson, speaking on the festival’s main stage as part of the event’s “Honoring Our Elders & Ancestors” program. The three-day festival was held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Wilson remembered Keith sharing words of wisdom with him as the president assumed the helm at Wayne State; words, he said, that still resonate.
“It was a great honor for me to be sworn in by Judge Keith when I became president of Wayne State,” said Wilson. “He gave me a gift that day: words that guided me in the many leadership decisions I’ve made at Wayne State. He said for Wayne State to be great, it must be good.
“I believe he was gently admonishing me to remember that, in the quest to be great, it’s easy to overlook being good — and being good means to put yourself in the shoes of others and treat them as you want to be treated.”
Wilson’s speech marked the final day of the festival, for which Wayne State served as a major sponsor.