UNCF Celebrated the Life and Achievements of Civil Rights ICON, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with Events Across the Nation



Here is a summary of the celebratory events that took place last month in honor of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr. 

Washington, D.C. (January 27, 2016) On Monday, Jan. 18th, UNCF( United Negro College Fund) honored civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with celebrations in Anderson, S.C., Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.. Please find below a summary of the various UNCF events held to honor and recognize the contributions of Dr. King, a graduate of UNCF-member institution Morehouse College.


 The 24th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration was held at the Shriners Silver Garden Events Center in Southfield. With more than 300 attendees a total of $29,000 was raised to provide educational resources to Michigan area students.  The “Spirit of the Dream” Award was presented recognizing outstanding citizens in the community who are continuing the work and values of the movement for which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. championed and sacrificed his life.  This year’s award recipients include: Vivian R. Pickard, Director of Community Partnerships for General Motors; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.-Gamma Lambda Chapter; and the Communities in Schools (CIS) Performing Arts Ensemble. Cathy Nedd, Associate Publisher and Chief Operating Officer for The Michigan Chronicle was the Mistress of Ceremonies, and entertainment provided by author Tinesha Cherry and the CIS Youth Performing Arts Ensemble. 

Anderson, S.C.

  • Held at the Anderson County Civic Center with close to 600 attendees, this event raised $13,000 for the Upstate Campaign managed by the UNCF Atlanta Regional Office. Attorney Michael Thurmond, Esq., former Georgia Labor Commissioner and former Superintendent of DeKalb County Schools, delivered the keynote address. In addition, Attorney Thurmond challenged the audience to look beyond the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and to emulate Dr. King’s spirit of forgiveness in the days and months following the King Holiday. He also stressed the importance of education and learning from those who have come before us.


  • UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax brought greetings and introduced former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who delivered the keynote address before a crowd of 2,000 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. This year’s Lifetime Local Legend honorees included the Honorable Michael J. Davis and the Honorable Alan C. Page. Notable attendees include Gov. Mark Dayton; State of Minnesota representatives including Sen, Amy Kaolbuchar, Sen. Al Franken, and Sen. Keith Ellison; Mayor Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis; and Mayor Chris Coleman of Saint Paul; Huber Jolly, CEO Best Buy Company, Inc.; and Kim Nelson, President, General Mills Foundation.  

New York 

  • The Rev. Henry T. Simmons of St. Albans Congregational Church in Queens provided the keynote address to 700 guests at Antun’s Catering Hall, while long-time UNCF supporter Sen. Chuck Schumer greeted the crowd. The 2016 honorees included Greater New York Inter-Alumni Council Volunteer, Sherman Perkins, and the Queens Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. who were honored for their dedication to and support of UNCF.  Notable figures in attendance included: the New York City Public Advocate Letitia James; New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer; New York State Assemblywoman Alicia L. Hyndman; and Marie Meeks, wife of Congressman Gregory W Meeks. For the second year, AARP served as the leading sponsor. Adrianna Hicks, featured in the Broadway production ofThe Color Purple, also performed.

Los Angeles

  • More than 40 HBCU and high school students were represented at the 27thannual birthday breakfast. Held at the Proud Bird restaurant, the event raised more than $20k in providing resources to get students to and through college. Dr. Tonya Lewis of One Faith Fellowship delivered the invocation and benediction. Nearly 600 guests attended with sponsorship provided by the following: AIDS Healthcare Foundation; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; A-Plus;Black Probation; Christ Second Baptist Church; Genentech; Knoxville Presbyterian Church; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; Top Ladies of Distinction; UPS;and Xerox.

Washington, D.C.

  • The Honorable Marilyn Mosby, Esq., Baltimore City State’s Attorney, served as keynote speaker at the 33rdannual birthday celebration. A graduate of UNCF-member institution Tuskegee University, Mosby spoke about her passion for reforming a system that disproportionately affects communities of color, and charged the crowd to prepare the next generation of leaders. The Honorable Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County Executive, served as this year’s Honorary Chair. Robert Burton, Anchor WJLA-TV, served as Master of Ceremonies for the event attended by nearly 700 guests. The Grace Walker Phillips Youth Leadership Award was given to Hope E. Goins, Esq., graduate of UNCF-member institution Tougaloo College and 2013 UNCF Young Alumnus of the Year. The event held at Martin’s Crosswinds was sponsored by Four Points, Aetna, Southern Management Corporation, and Wegmans.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/UNCF/posts/MLK to view images from UNCF Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday celebrations across the nation.

About UNCF

UNCF – United Negro College Fund is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships annually and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities.  Learn more atwww.uncf.org.


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