DETROIT – Wayne State University will host its annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tribute Friday, Jan. 14, with this year’s keynote address being presented by WSU alumnus Christopher Wilson, director of experience design at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
The event, which will also feature Detroit native and former WDIV news anchor Lauren M. Sanders as emcee, begins at 10 a.m. and will be livestreamed online at wayne.edu/live.
“As has been our tradition, Wayne State University once again proudly celebrates the struggles, the sacrifices and the triumphs that mark the vibrant legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said President M. Roy Wilson. “This year’s theme, Looking Back to Look Ahead, will reflect on Dr. King’s teachings and how we live them today and into the future.”
As in previous years, the university will present its Arthur L. Johnson Community Leadership Awards, which recognize individuals and organizations that exemplify Johnson’s commitment to community and making a positive difference in Detroit and beyond. This year’s individual honoree is Jametta Lilly, CEO of Detroit Parent Network; the Michigan Justice Fund has been named the organizational honoree.
Additionally, alumna and Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, who also served briefly in Congress, will receive the first Wayne State University Warrior Strong Distinguished Service Award for her 16 years of public service.
The event will also feature the Wayne State University Chorale, led by Lecturer Brandon Waddles. Detroit native Zania Alaké, a 2021 contestant on The Voice, will sing both the national anthem and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the de facto African American national anthem.
“It is an honor and privilege to partner with Wayne State University to celebrate the Rev. Dr. King’s legacy. We have to acknowledge our past to envision our future,“ said Trina Scott, chief diversity officer of Rocket Companies, the dream title sponsor for the event.
An assortment of WSU students, faculty and alumni will also offer individual reflections on the contemporary impact of Dr. King’s teachings.
Keynote speaker Wilson said he was proud to be able to address King’s legacy: “As a native Detroiter, son of two Wayne State graduates and an alumnus of the graduate program in history, I could not be more thrilled and honored to participate in the university’s tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King and the radical, peaceful revolution to transform America into a nation that lives up to its ideals."
Patrick O. Lindsey, vice president for government and community affairs, noted Johnson’s role in establishing the university’s ongoing King celebration, which began in 1997.
“Dr. Johnson stated, ‘I wanted to make sure that Wayne State’s Martin Luther King memorial program would be first-rate and attract not only students but the community at large,’” Lindsey said. “Government and Community Affairs is committed to maintaining Dr. Johnson’s commitment to an exceptional and community-embracing celebration of Dr. King’s life and legacy.”
Past tributes have 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.
For more information and to RSVP for the event, please visit go.wayne.edu/mlk-2022.