SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – Hundreds of community members came together to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the NAACP’s 34th annual memorial luncheon Monday afternoon. He would have turned 89 years old today if he was still alive.
News4Utah’s Surae Chinn was the Mistress of Ceremonies for the event.
Organizers awarded Judge Shauna Graves-Robertson with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award, Gail Miller with the Rosa Parks Awards, 12 students with scholarships, and the following eight people in law enforcement with First Responder awards:
– Detective Josh Ashdown, Salt Lake City Police Department
– Chief Mike Brown for Police Pay It Forward, Salt Lake City Police Department
– Officer Ryan Carver, West Valley City Police Department
– Officer Daniel Cherkis & Officer Jim Foust, Park City Police Department
– Deputy Jake Crowley, Summit County Sheriff’s Office
– Officer Brayton Doxstader, Ogden Police Department
– Sgt. David Evans, Cedar City Police Department
– Officer Todd Kershaw, Salt Lake City Police Department
This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Nicole Ford-Francis. She was a civil rights activist in 1999 and has years of experience teaching civil rights advocacy around the country. She emphasized leaving a legacy of life through love, intelligence, fellowship and education.
“We have got to celebrate the fact that we are here and that we have become successful in this country,” said Dr. Ford-Francis. “It is important that all of us…as diverse as this country is, work together to study the history of African-Americans before the diaspora, back to Africa as we celebrate and appreciate not just African-Americans but all diverse people.”
Dr. Jackie Thompson, an award presenter, believes the MLK Jr. holiday is more relevant today than it was back then because of the issues facing society.
“As Dr. King said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,'” said Dr. Thompson. “With everything that’s happened in the past year, we know there has been some horrible things that have happened but, we can take that bad and turn it into good.”
Shawn Newell, Vice President of NAACP said while many strides have been made in civil rights, he also recognizes that there is still a long way to go.
“There is no end to fighting for civil rights and to continue this, we need to have individuals speak up in our society so that we can grow,” said Newell. “We all have a right to be here in the United States. This country was built on immigration. this country was build of people working together, being strong and it was built on the backs of of the people they want to move out of this country.”
Jeanetta Williams, President of the NAACP Salt Lake branch said this year, they will focus on voter registration and student success.