January 8, 2021

Wayne State to host annual MLK Tribute virtually on Jan. 18

Poet, author, activist Caroline Randall Williams, keynote speaker for the Wayne State Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute on Jan. 18
Poet, author, activist Caroline Randall Williams will serve as keynote speaker for the Wayne State Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute on Jan. 18

Wayne State University will hold its annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute virtually on Jan. 18 at 1 p.m., with award-winning poet, author and activist Caroline Randall Williams as this year’s special guest.

The event, which will be broadcast on Comcast channel 900 as well as streamed with live chat on wayne.edu/live, will also feature remarks from WSU President M. Roy Wilson and a poetry reading from InsideOut poets.

Kimberly Gill, a news anchor for WDIV-TV, will conduct a Q&A session with Williams following the speech and performances.

WDIV-TV co-anchor Kimberly Gill (left) leads Q&A session with journalist Jemelle Hill at the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute

In addition, the university will honor the winners of this year’s Dr. Arthur L. Johnson Community Leadership Awards. Named after late civil rights leader and Wayne State administrator Arthur L. Johnson, the awards recognize individuals and organizations — nominated by the public — whose contributions positively affect the community.

“While the circumstances surrounding this year’s celebration will be unusual, we still remain excited and eager to continue our tradition of honoring the vision, sacrifice and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said President Wilson. “We are also thrilled to recognize the contributions of many others in our community who, every day, do the hard work of serving, uplifting and protecting the most vulnerable among us.”

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative and social justice activist Joel Batterman, an advocate of equitable public transportation, earned the award at last year’s program. At the 2019 MLK Tribute, honorees included Downtown Boxing Gym founder Khali Sweeney and WSU alumna Kimberly Hurst, founder and executive director of Avalon Healing (formerly known as the Wayne County Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner’s Program), which provides medical-forensic exams and crisis intervention for sexual assault victims of all ages.

Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch gives keynote speech at WSU's Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute in 2018

Past tributes have also featured such notable guest speakers as former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, The Atlantic writer Jemele Hill, and comic and CNN contributor W. Kamau Bell. Wayne State has sponsored the event since 1997.

To view the Jan. 18 event live, please visit rsvp.wayne.edu/mlk-2021.

The event will be rebroadcast on wayne.edu/live, without the chat, that same day at 7 p.m.