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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan offers opportunities for all generations

Posted at 5:20 PM, Jan 13, 2023

LANSING, Mich. — Monday, Jan. 16, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A day to celebrate the legacy of the civil rights leader.

For the last 42 years, Lansing has been home to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan. It’s the longest continuously operating commission in the nation dedicated to preserving the teachings of King. The group is also this week’s Good Neighbors.

When you walk into the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Celebration at Lansing Center, you can feel the uplifting, positive energy radiating throughout the room.

“You've got young people, old people, black people, white people, people of all faiths, all colors. Elect statewide elected officials and students. Electric, the atmosphere is electric. But it is community building," Elaine Hardy, leader of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan, said.

Before the pandemic, the group hosted the largest luncheon event in the nation, honoring the civil rights leader.

MLK commissions were first organized to push for a national holiday to honor King, and when that happened in 1983, many groups shut down. But Hardy says the mid-Michigan chapter saw an opportunity to continue.

“It is a significant commission because it does two things I believe very efficiently in our community," Hardy said. "It brings us back to the place where we remember Dr. King, the person. We remember the words he spoke, and we talk about that historic speech where he uttered those words, I have a dream. And we also get to remind the community that we still have work to do.”

Commissioner Dr. Lee June says part of that work inspires the younger generation to reflect on King’s actions, and one way they do that is through an annual essay contest.

"One of the things King did very well was he recognized the core issues of his time, and he fought relentlessly to bring them about, and this is a chance for us to think about what the critical issues are now. And then, how can we commit ourselves to bringing about change," June said. "Reading those essays gives me hope, and that's what Dr. King did for me and our generation. He showed us that we can make a change.”

This year, the commission is hosting leading national civil rights attorney Fred Gray to speak at their luncheon. Gray is 92 years old, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year and just released his latest book.

Hardy says it’s important to honor all those fighting for equality.

There are foot soldiers, everyday heroes who went to Selma, who went to Birmingham, who went to Washington D.C. They came back into their communities and fought and marched and worked and organized, and that was the heart of the movement. It was those people," Hardy said. "When you talk about how Lansing is significant, we have those individuals here, right? And we believe as a commission that we should celebrate the foot soldiers, the people that we know about and those that we don't know about.”

We agree and want to thank the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan, which inspires new generations to make positive changes and carry forward the work of Dr. King.

Congratulations, you are this week’s Good Neighbors.

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Bob Hoffman

Bob Hoffman

9:44 PM, Nov 26, 2018

Good Neighbors Host

Bob Hoffman

Good Neighbors
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