January 3, 2024

Wayne State University to host annual MLK tribute Jan. 11, 12

Wayne State University will host its annual tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 11 and 12 with a two-part event featuring a cultural celebration, a panel discussion about Detroit’s impact on the Civil Rights Movement and in-depth conversations with political commentator Santita Jackson, the daughter of civil rights icon the Rev. Jesse Jackson. 

Radio host/political commentator Santita Jackson, daughter of civil rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson, will help lead conversations about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the WSU tribute to MLK on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12.

Additionally, the university will present the annual Arthur L. Johnson Community Leadership Awards honoring individuals and organizations that share the late NAACP and WSU leader’s commitment to community service.

The tribute will kick off Thursday, Jan. 11, at 5 p.m. at the Industry Innovation Center with the panel discussion on Detroit’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. The discussion will be followed by a conversation between Jackson and Chuck Stokes, the editorial and public affairs director for WXYZ-TV, about voting rights and contemporary activism. The next day will feature a conversation between Jackson — who hosts her own radio show and has appeared on FOX News, MSNBC and other outlets — and former Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley at the university’s Hilberry Gateway at 10 a.m.

“The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s unwavering commitment to justice, equality and inclusivity continues to inspire us today,” said President Kimberly Andrews Espy, Ph.D. “At Wayne State University, we are honored to pay tribute to his legacy and the values he embodied.

“I am eagerly anticipating attending the MLK event that celebrates the remarkable life and enduring legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This occasion promises not only to honor a visionary leader who championed equality, justice and civil rights — it also will inspire reflection on the progress we’ve made and the work that still lies ahead.”

The Jan. 11 panel discussion, “The Motor City and the Movement,” will bring together a slew of prominent local figures, including Riley, who directs the City of Detroit’s arts, culture and entrepreneurship; Robin Terry, chairwoman and CEO of the Motown Museum; Jamon Jordan, City of Detroit historian; and Professor Kefentse Chike from Wayne State University’s Department of African American Studies.

The Jan. 12 portion of the program, “Arts, Culture and Music of the Movement,” is free and open to the public. It will include performances by the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences Show Choir, the Wayne State Company Fresh and Friends Choir, the university’s Freedom Players Social Justice Freedom Ensemble and others.

In addition, former Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson is slated to receive the Warrior Strong Distinguished Service Award.

“The Civil Rights Movement was a mass protest and display of activism to gain equal rights for African Americans,” said Stacie Clayton, WSU director of community affairs. “Singers, actors and artists such as Harry Belafonte, Frank Sinatra, Sidney Poitier and Detroit’s own Aretha Franklin supported Dr. King’s work by addressing discrimination and segregation in their art and participating in acts of protest. Wayne State students, faculty, and local elementary and high school students will highlight these efforts in song, dance, poetry and art as we honor Dr. King.”

Ian Conyers, senior manager of community engagement at Amazon, which is co-sponsoring the MLK event, said, “Amazon is proud to join the celebration of Rev. Dr. King for a second year, strengthening our support of Wayne State University, a Career Choice Partner. In Detroit, we strive to be not only a great employer, but a great neighbor.”

The Jan. 12 portion of the tribute will be taped and will be available to watch at wayne.edu/live on MLK Day Jan. 15.

For more information, please visit events.wayne.edu/2024/01/12/2024-rev-dr-martin-luther-king-jr-tribute-98111.


Darrell Dawsey
Phone: 313-577-1204
Email: Darrell.Dawsey@wayne.edu

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