A celebration fit for a King

MLK

WCC Jazz Faculty band members (from left) Duane Wells, Steve Somers and Julius Tompkins perform in front of an image of Martin Luther King Jr., during the college’s observance of MLK Day. Photo by Lynn Monson

Martin Luther King Jr. remembered, honored

Every year on the third Monday of January, people from all walks of life come together to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the man who sacrificed so much, including his own life, to lead the movement toward ending racial segregation in the U.S. and ensuring freedom for all.

This year was no different.

On Thursday, Jan. 14, Washtenaw Community College students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered on the second floor of the Student Center building to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day a few days early.

The day’s festivities kicked off with a high-energy musical performance by the WCC Jazz Faculty Band, along with a rendition of the college’s 50th anniversary song, “Opening Doors” by the WCC Chamber Singers.

Taking the stage to share her thoughts on what Dr. King’s remarkable contributions mean in today’s society was WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca.

“I think that Dr. King would be very proud of this celebration and of the work we do here at Washtenaw Community College. He would be proud of the diversity that weaves throughout the fabric of our college,” Bellanca said. “This diversity is what gives our students a sound, rich and nuanced education, which propels them to reach their educational hopes and dreams.”

Next was a poignant spoken word piece titled, “I Believe” performed by Corzetta Tillman, a former WCC student and soon-to-be graduate of Eastern Michigan University.

WCC faculty member Dr. Thornton Perkins, who teaches history, then delivered the keynote address and took the audience on a trip through Civil Rights history, including a personal anecdote about a trip to the South to visit relatives. It was there where his grandfather had to explain to him why blacks couldn’t swim in public swimming pools that were signed “Whites Only.”

“MLK Day is an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come and how much closer we are to Dr. King’s dream,” he said.

Read the rest of my story in the January/February issue of On the Record here.

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