“Be the change you want to see in the world” was the theme of this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Luncheon Celebration.
Nearly 1,600 attended the popular event at the Lansing Center, hearing inspirational music from Tabernacle of David Choir; Sharon Lawrence and Phil Denny performing the National Anthem; and Music of the Dream Orchestra conducted by Rodney Page and featuring Larry Trice.
International and Grammy Award-winning recording artist Pastor Donnie McClurkin also performed, moving audience members with his song “I Need You.”
Speakers included Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters and, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin.
Mark McDaniel, president and CEO of Cinnaire and a longtime supporter of the event, was master of ceremonies.
Along with moving music and inspirational words, 2019 essay contest winners were announced, along with 2019 recipients of the Mark S. McDaniel Legacy Scholarship.
Former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, America’s first African-American governor, delivered a keynote speech that shared his family’s personal story of slavery, his election in Virginia and his role in getting Martin Luther King Jr. Day recognized as a state holiday in his state.
“We must be instruments for change in our country,” Wilder said. “We cannot wait for government to act, government must be prodded to act.”
In closing, Wilder shared something he’d read as a young man that stayed with him: “And I will persist until I succeed because I was not delivered to this world in defeat, nor does defeatism run through my blood or the blood of my ancestors,” Wilder quoted. “I’m not some sheep waiting to be prodded by the shepherd, I’m a lion.”