By Ellie Halvorson
Grand Rapids Community College joined Davenport University and Grand Valley State University for a virtual livestream on Monday, Jan. 17 to celebrate the 36th annual commemoration of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., featuring Cheryl Brown Henderson as the keynote speaker.
Live streamed from Fountain Street Church, Henderson, the Founding President of The Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, led a lecture titled “Brown v. Board of Education: The Legacy Continues” which highlights the ongoing battle of discrimination and hatred towards people of color and other minorities.
“I don’t care how sweet you say it, we know what it is,” Henderson said. “Hate was soft pedaled a bit back then, but now it’s all out there. Why would you waste your one life, your finite heartbeat on hating someone?”
Henderson focused on many points from King’s life and African American history and expressed the responsibility each person has to run their leg of the race. “It was the youth that changed this country,” Henderson said. “Young people, please don’t stop. We need you. The power that we seek is in our voice. The change that we seek is in our vote.”
In addition, the commemoration included the announcement of awards to students from the Grand Rapids area and two musical performances from Debra Perry and Majestic Praise.
Four high school students received the Inherit the Dream Scholarship: a mechanical engineering major at GVSU, a biological laboratory sciences major at Davenport, a political science major and an aspiring electrician both planning to attend GRCC. Additionally, three students from within the Grand Rapids Public School system were mentioned for their artistic pieces for the 17th annual MLK Social Justice Legacy Contest.
GRCC’s President Bill Pink spoke briefly about King’s social impact and highlighted one of his favorite quotes from King, “I have decided to stick to love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
“Hate hurts. Hate hurts people. Hate hurts our community,” Pink added.