Eastern Michigan University and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History presented the 2021 MLK Keynote Speaker, White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour and journalist, Yamiche Alcindor, as part of the MLK Day Celebration on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021.
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Eastern Michigan University began working together in 2020 and came up with this event.
“I’m happy that we can still do the event and everyone be safe,” Director of Education and Public Programs at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Reginald Woolery said. “We’re really excited about the collaboration.”
The webinar began with an introduction of Yamiche Alcindor by the Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement Tray McGuire and Outreach Coordinator at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Jessica Brown.
Alcindor joined in on the Zoom webinar from her residency in Washington D.C.. Her speech involved some of her favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. She spoke about racism, the capability of people finding what they’re good at and using it to help society, and current event topics such as the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These times are times of challenge and controversy. There’s no other way to describe the time period in which we’re living. We are just starting to learn so many of the details about how our democracy is at risk,” Alcindor said. “We’re just gearing up for now a second historic impeachment of President Trump, the first president in history to be impeached twice. We’re still reckoning with the police killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others.”
Alcindor went on to explain to the audience on how the COVID-19 pandemic has played an important part in showing the racial inequalities minorities still face, as people of color in the U.S. seem to be more impacted by the virus than white Americans.
She further stated that these are "the inequalities that Martin Luther King Jr. pushed so hard to eliminate.”
Following Alcindor’s presentation, there was a 30 minute period for the audience to ask Alcindor questions. Questions from the audience were read by Dr. Doris Fields, Ph.D. and Steven Bryant, Ed.D.
One out of the many questions to Alcindor was about what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would think of the world today.
“I think if Martin Luther King were alive today, he’d be proud of the fact that we’ve come somewhat far as a country and that we are able to coexist….” Alcindor said. “I think he would be happy and pleased with the idea that we’re a society that is moving toward making the right to vote even more easy and more accessible for people. I think the thing that would maybe break his heart a bit is how divided we are still as a country…”
Then, 15 minutes after Alcindor closed with her final remarks, there was a panel discussion that audience members were also invited to attend.
On the panel was Dr. Doris Fields, Ph.D., Ebony Walls, Student Government President Luis Romero, and Jessica Brown. The panel spoke about Alcindor’s speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, and how to end racism in America.
A closing video was also played that included Dr. Doris Fields, Ph.D. and Steven Bryant, Ed.D. thanking audience members for joining the Keynote Speaker event.