LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– More than a thousand people filled the Lansing Center on Monday for the annual luncheon honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Through all the performances, awards and speeches, a lot of people took the time to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy and how far we’ve come.
“It’s a day that the community comes together to promote Dr. King,” says Elaine Hardy, Chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of mid-Michigan. “But for us as a commission it really is reflective of the community that we serve throughout the year.”
Some in the audience know first hand what King and other activists went through to achieve his famous dream. Dr. and Mrs. Pernell went to college in Montgomery, Alabama at the height of the bus boycott and met with King during his time in the state.
“It was terrible,” says Eugene Pernell, “because we were trying to get an education and all of the segregation problems were imminent then. And so we had a difficult time with that.”
Eugene and his wife Ida Yvonne have lived and worked in the Lansing area for decades and raised a family. They’ve seen the country get closer to achieving Dr. King’s dream over time.
“In his speech “I have a dream” he dreamed that one day little black boys, little white boys and all the kids could be together in one classroom,” says Ida Pernell, a former teacher. “Part of that dream has occurred, but we still have a long ways to go.”
They say the change and progress of the civil rights movement was always driven by one goal: a brighter future for all.
“We saw old people walking so that things would get better for their children,” Eugene says. “I’ve never seen African-Americans working together that diligently, but the price was worth it. And Dr. King set that goal for everybody.”