LANSING, Mich. — Dr. Bernice King will headline the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan’s 2021 annual signature event, which will be televised for the first time in its 36-year history. The 2021 MLK Day of Celebration will air on WILX TV 10-NBC, Monday, Jan. 18, 7-8 p.m. EST.
King is a global peace activist and youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Bernice King was only five years old when her father was assassinated.
A conversation between Bernice King and Elaine Hardy, commission chair, will be featured in the one-hour TV program.
“Dr. Bernice King is an innovative, energetic and committed leader, dedicated to taking her parents’ legacy of nonviolence and the work of creating a more peaceful, just, humane world into a new era,” Hardy said.
“It’s especially fitting the pandemic has led us to produce a virtual event for 2021, after a summer of global outrage against racism with more than 10,600 mostly peaceful demonstrations across the U.S. There’s heightened awareness of systemic racism now, and our televised message of equality, diversity and social justice will be easily accessible to a broad Mid-Michigan audience.”
The theme for the 2021 MLK Day of Celebration is “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” It is a quote by Dr. King from his "I have a dream" speech, and it is engraved on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Hardy said the televised program will include many features of previous celebrations:
- Messages from elected officials.
- Musical performances.
- Announcement of the commission’s annual sponsors.
The 2020 celebration presentation was before a sold-out audience of 2,200 attendees at The Lansing Center, Lansing.
Bernice King is a peace advocate, thought leader, orator, minister and member of the Georgia State Bar, having earned a master of divinity and doctorate in law. She began her oratorical journey at age 17 when she spoke in her mother’s stead at the U.N. Most recently she spoke at the funeral of U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
She has led The King Center as CEO since 2012. The center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, prepares global citizens to create a more just, humane and peaceful world using Dr. King’s nonviolent philosophy and methodology. It was founded by her mother in 1968. Bernice King is credited with expanding and enhancing the center’s education and training platform and transforming its physical campus.
Examples of her peace advocacy include:
- Leading “A 7-Day Nonviolent Livestream for Justice” protest in June 2020 with the goal of moving from peaceful protest to finding solutions.
- Initiating The King Center’s weekly virtual conversations during the pandemic in support of mental health and to explore how to come together as a community.
- With The King Center’s team, providing nonviolence training to the Ferguson, Missouri, community following the 2014 death of Michael Brown and to the Minnesota community of Philando Castile after he was fatally shot in 2016.
- Spearheading the 2013 “Let Freedom Ring and Call to Action” event in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.
A recent example of the many accolades Bernice King has received is the co-chairs’ 2020 Phoenix Award presented by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation on BET in October. She has met Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, was invited to participate in the 2019 World Summit of Nobel of Peace Laureates in Merida, Mexico, and was included in the “20 Remarkable Activists Ready To Change The World” featured on the cover of the August 2020 edition of Vogue UK.
Many organizations, including City of East Lansing and City of Lansing, actively support the commission’s work. Corporate sponsors for 2021 that are donating $10,000 or more are AF Group/Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Cinnaire, Dean Transportation, Delta Dental, Jackson, LAFCU and Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.
Mark McDaniel, Cinnaire CEO, will return as master of ceremonies, and a digital program book will be available for download. Sponsorships are still available.
Winners of the commission’s student essay contest are usually recognized at the celebration event. That presentation of $17,500 in prizes and scholarships will be April 4, 2021, the anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination.
The commission’s MLK Day of Celebration is a tribute to the inspiring civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King. For more information visit https://mlkmidmichigan.com [mlkmidmichigan.com] or follow the commission on Facebook, @MLKCommOfMidMI.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan works to support equality, diversity and social justice. It focuses on the area’s pressing issues of literacy, youth violence, hunger, mentoring, education and community enrichment. The nonprofit organization hosts speakers and concerts, supports community service agencies, and promotes youth initiatives, such as essay and art contests, college scholarships and an annual Y-Achievers tour for high school students.
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