In January, millions of people around the country honored the work and the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by volunteering and participating in special celebrations and events. The federal holiday is observed on the third Monday of January, which is around King’s birthday, January 15 – he would have been 91 this year. Here’s how Greater Flint residents paid tribute to the famous leader of the modern American Civil Rights Movement.
Genesys Banquet Center
41st Annual Citywide MLK Tribute Dinner
This event centered on the theme “Rise to the Challenge . . . if not now, when?” The keynote address was given by Janice Ferebee, MSW, a docent with the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C. Ferebee is also an author, consultant, international speaker and founder/Chief Woman Warrior of Ferebee Enterprises International, (FEI) a global female empowerment enterprise.
Presented each year by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Planning Committee, the 2020 Tribute Dinner was co-sponsored by Baker College, Davenport University, Hamilton Community Health Network, Kettering University, Mott Community College and UM-Flint.
Dort Financial Credit Union Event Center
2020 MLK Day of Service
United Way of Genesee County hosted a day “on” rather than a day “off” by packaging 200,000 meals. From 9am until noon, hundreds of volunteers gathered to assemble meals for distribution to those facing food insecurity.
Flint Institute of Arts and Flint Public Library
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebratory Program
The FIA and Flint Public Library partnered to present a program celebrating the life and work of Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Free, family-friendly activities and events were offered in both spaces.
Emcee, Glenn Wilson, President and CEO of Communities First, Inc. introduced City of Flint Clerk Inez Brown, whose keynote speech explored Flint’s Civil Rights legacy. She was followed by a performance by musical guests The Spiritual Wonders and presentations by The Youth Groups of the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, the Gamma Delta Kudos and Gamma Delta Xinos.
The remembrance then moved to a reception in FIA’s Isabel Hall, featuring a step performance by the Institute of R.H.Y.M.E.S. Men of Excellence. In addition, the FIA Art School offered a free family make-and-take activity that incorporated symbols associated with Dr. King – peace, justice, equality and change for people everywhere. MTA Flint provided support for the FIA reception and activities.
Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy
14th Annual Mentoring Inspiration Breakfast
Hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flint & Genesee County, this event honors Dr. King’s life and legacy through the promotion of mentorship and service. This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Howard C. Stevenson of Philadelphia, PA, a psychologist who focuses on counseling people living in low-income rural and urban neighborhoods. The event engages community members to incorporate mentoring into their lives by volunteering to mentor a youth from Big Brothers Big Sisters. The program included testimonials and entertainment.
Greater Flint Celebrates Black History Month
Genesee District Library
19th Annual Black History Month Brunch
February 1, 10am
This annual event honors the accomplishments and contributions of area leaders. Receiving the Award of Excellence were former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, teacher Melinda Anderson and advocate, Dr. Recco Richardson. In addition, Ivy House was honored with the Partner in Progress Award. Attendees were entertained by Atlanta gospel singer and Stellar Award Winner, Casey J. A portion of the proceeds from this ticketed event helps fund GDL’s Summer Reading Challenge that reaches over 10,000 children and their families annually.
Mott Community College
Black History Month Speaker: Barry Scott
February 12, 2:00pm
MCC will host acclaimed actor, writer and speaker, Barry Scott. Scott is the founder and producing artistic director of the American Negro Playwright Theatre at Tennessee State University. During his presentations, he draws upon his history as a child growing up and being treated differently than white children his age. He challenges those listening to keep moving forward in an effort to better our nation.
The New McCree Theatre
“The Saints of St. John Street”
Written by McCree Theatre Executive Director, Charles H. Winfrey, “The Saints of St. John Street,” tells the story of four youngsters, the Saints, who are friends and members of a losing baseball team looking for a coach. Winfrey combines his own recollections of living on St. John Street through the lives of the four young ballplayers, their parents and siblings and the quirky locals living on the street. Shows run Thursday-Saturday starting at 7pm with a Saturday matinee showing at 2pm.
Flint Institute of Arts
Wonderfully Made: The Artis Collection of African American Art
Open January 18-April 12, 2020
Drawn from the collection of Flint natives Anthony J. and Davida J. Artis, this exhibition represents the first time these works have been shown in a museum setting and includes pieces by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Jacob Lawrence, Mary Lee Bendolph and Winfred Rembert. The collection totals more than 70 works that include prints, watercolors and drawings. The works feature themes of faith, family, and faces meant to inspire. The pieces tell a story as well as educate, encourage and engage the community.
Exhibit open January 26-April 19, 2020
This exhibit celebrates works by African American artists in various mediums from the 20th century to present day. The selections explore themes related to community, including identity, representation, expression and social justice. Visitors to this exhibition may vote for one of three works not currently in the FIA collection. The work that gains the most votes will be purchased using funds raised at the Community Gala on January 25. Voting takes place through March 8, 2020.
5th Annual African American Film Series: “Mr. Church”
February 13, 7pm
Sponsored by Communities First, Inc., this is the final film presentation of the African American Film Series. In “Mr. Church,” a young girl and her dying mother are joined by a black male cook who comes to live with them. The new relationships forged will change their lives forever.
Photography by Kayce McClure