MLK Celebration Kicks Off With Visit from NAACP National President Dr. Cornell Brooks
By Lindsey Perkins Wade
Posted on January 16, 2017, January 16, 2017

MLK Celebration Kicks

On Friday Dr. Cornell William Brooks, the national President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), helped launch the four-day Arlington MLK Celebration.

"He's a big draw," said Christina Satcher, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority who greeted guests at the annual awards banquet honoring students and community leaders who emulate civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year's theme for the celebration was "Advancing the Dream: A Nation of Freedom and Justice."

MLK Celebration Kicks

The evening event took place at UT Arlington, home to the fifth-most diverse undergraduate university population in the country that also lays claim to the largest collegiate NAACP chapter.

When Dr. Brooks took the stage, the hundreds in attendance fell silent, listening attentively and only breaking their stillness with rounds of applause and verbal agreements throughout the keynote address.

With the cadence and conviction of a preacher and the passion of a civil rights defender, Dr. Brooks delivered a speech highlighting three tenants of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s teachings: the intrinsic value of all human beings, hope and the moral order of the universe, and our interdependence on one another.

"Dr. King's holiday is not a holiday from social justice, it is a sabbath for social justice," he reminded everyone before ending his message to a standing ovation.

MLK Celebration Kicks

Many awards were handed out that evening as well, with Atmos Energy providing $5,500 in scholarships. High school students Kaylee Kim, Daylan Franklin and Bithia Dantoumda won first, second and third in the MLK Celebration's art contest, with Kim's artwork featured on the front of the banquet's program and event T-shirts. Ariel Almaraz, Ngan Hoang Ho and Brianna Brasher took top honors in the essay contest, and Almaraz's essay appeared in the evening's program. The Spirit of Service Scholarship went to Precious Dunamis of Tarrant County College Southeast.

Advancing the Dream Awards honored the following community members in their respective fields: Lillie Madison (community - individual), Arlington Hispanic Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association (community - group), Dr. William Marvin Dulaney and Linh Nguyen (education), and Police Chief Will Johnson (government).

MLK Celebration Chair Vera McKissic hopes that the annual celebration unites the community and serves as a reminder of Dr. King's message to focus on a person's character and not their appearance.

"We all judge people without knowing them. That's why we want to get people to walk together, sing together, and eat together during the weekend," McKissic said. "Because the only way all that falls away is if you know me."

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