“Reviving the dream through education”
“Reviving the Dream Through Education” was the theme of the 19th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., celebration which was held earlier this afternoon at the Madrigrano Auditorium at Gateway Technical College. The room was packed with supporters, award winners, and their families.
The celebration started out with a video entitled, “Martin, Can You Hear Us?,” sung by Elaine Biggs, courtesy of YouTube. The words repeated, “Martin, can you hear us crying? Can you hear us now?”
Jacqueline Morris, chair of this year’s committee, then made the introductory remark that they were happy to honor Dr. King on President Obama’s second inauguration day. Today is the observance of Dr. King’s birthday, and this is Gateway’s 19th annual celebration.
Another video with the title theme was then shown, featuring the four 2013 Humanitarian Award winners, DaZhan Wilderson, from Racine, Trevor Foster, from Bristol, Jamy Koepke, from Salem, and Jo Wynn, from Kenosha. Wynn said, “Dr. King stood for education for all, all races, all creeds. Education empowers people. We can all go for the same goal,” she said. “Dr. King just wanted to do God’s will. Education was the key to knowledge, success. That was his legacy, and I am living the same dream. Academic achievement is the key to success. If Dr. King were alive today, I hope that he’d be proud.”
Bryan Albrecht, president of Gateway Technical College (GTC), then said that Foster’s family was present and that Foster himself was attending the inauguration. He stated that he was proud that Gateway was a resource for the community. He also recognized the numerous elected officials in the audience, including Senator Bob Wirch, State Representatives Peter Barca and Tod Ohnstad, Alderperson Anthony Kennedy, and Chief of Police John Morrissey. He also recognized Michele Hancock, superintendent of the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD), and Lorna Floyd, president of the Technical College System.
Zina Haywood, executive vice president/provost of the college, quoted the Bible, and provided inspiration. The Bible says, “Prayer is the key and faith unlocks the door. The realization of Martin Luther King’s dream is success, and eduation unlocks the door. She also said that education is to success as air is to breathing, and breathing is to life.”
She quoted a 2011 survey of GTC graduates. Those who took one semester at GTC averaged $11.66/hour; those who attended for one year averaged $16.24/hour, and those who graduated with an associate’s degree averaged $19.34/hour. She challenged all young people to find their keys and unlock their doors to success with education.
Vanessa Perez, multicultural student support special for GTC, then presented the 2013 Dream Keepers, winners of the Peace Mentor, Kenosha Kindness, and Peace Maker Awards. There were 113 students from 24 schools recognized for their leadership.
John Bush, 7th grade student, from St. Joseph’s Academy, and Stacey Mia, entertained the group with poetry and song. Click here to view this video:
Mary Ann Lockovich, from the 31st World Congress of Poets, read her “Liberty Bell” poem. Mia then entertained with another of his songs. Click here to view this video:
Paris Echoles, KUSD’s coordinator of student engagement and equality, introduced the keynote speaker, Arthel Howell, chief of police of the city of Racine. Howell talked about three guiding principles:
1) “We must reflect.” The picture below shows Dr. King entering Morehouse College at the age of 15:
2) “We must regroup.” The picture below depicts the turbulence of the ’60’s:
3) We need to respond. Howell relayed how community members are responding, such as the volunteers in Racine, from those who help children with homework to the Cops ‘N Kids reading center.
Howell then relayed a personal story. Back in 1969, there was a non-violent march that took place in Racine in support of the Dr. John Bryant Community Center. He said,”There was a nine-year-old child in the crowd attending with Thelma Orr. That child was me. I’m grateful to the community that nurtured me, protected me, encouraged me, and provided a safe haven for me. Dr. King’s dream is alive. Whatever affects on directly, affects all indirectly,” he said, citing King. “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.” Then, he showed a picture of himself getting sworn in as police chief.
Next, Morris and Joanne Allen, co-chairpersons of the MLK Humanitarian Award Committee, presented the awards to the humanitarian awards. The first went to Jo Wynn, who founded and now directs Walkin’ In My Shoes, a street outreach program that seeks out the homeless in the Kenosha community. Here she is receiving her award:
Lisa Albrecht presented the award to Kristin Foster, Trevor Foster’s mother. Trevor is a junior at Central High School and founder of the Westosha Central Habitat for Humanity chapter, the first high school chapter in the state. He was attending the President’s inauguration. Therefore, his mother accepted the award on his behalf. See the picture below:
Jamy Koepke, of Salem, a Gateway Technical College medical assistant student, has overseen several fundraisers for those needing medical assistance. Here she is receiving her award:
DaZhan Wilderson, another of the Humanitarian Award recipients, is pictured below. He is a Carthage College student majoring in physics and mechanical engineering, and is a youth mentor in the YMCA Young Leaders Academy in Racine. Here he is receiving his award:
The closing inspirational talk was given by Shanta Harris, who graduated in April, 2012, from the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Bootcamp, Gateway’s and Racine Workforce Development’s program. He talked about how making $8.50/hour didn’t make it for him as he was trying to take care of his family, and how he joined the Bootcamp program in November of 2011. He graduated on April 13th and got a job with Bradshaw Medical on May 9th. Plus, he had four other job offers. He described how he went from making some wrong decisions to feed his family to now having not only one job, but a second job at Gateway “teaching students to do what I do.”
He says that “Now I don’t care about money, I care about helping people, about giving back. Without education, it won’t work,” he said. He stated that he currently has his yellow belt. Next month, he plans on going back to school to obtain his green belt, then his black belt. Then, he’ll be able to do 99% of the jobs in America.
Harris also relayed a story about his own 11-year-old son. He wrote a paper about somebody special in my life. His son wrote that that somebody special was his dad. “He works third shift, and he’s hard working. I want to be like him,” his son said. “He’s the only man I look up to.” The audience gave him a standing ovation.
Morris then concluded the program, and invited everyone to attend the UAW Local 72 celebration on Saturday, January 26th. The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., celebration will take place at 5:30 pm with speaker U. S. Representative John Lewis, from Georgia. This will take place at the UAW Local 72 Building, 3615 Washington Road. There is a $15 admission fee for dinner and the program.