State Supreme Court Justice inspires audience at VGCC Martin Luther King celebration
Inspirational speakers and music highlighted Vance-Granville Community College’s annual celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday on Jan. 18, in the college’s Civic Center.
The newest associate justice of the , the Honorable Michael R. “Mike” Morgan, served as the keynote speaker.
“Martin Luther King, Jr., stood for equality, for fairness and for justice,” Morgan reflected. “Dr. King’s legacy reverberates throughout our society. He said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” That does not mean only injustices inflicted upon us by external forces, the speaker said. “If we’re not careful, we’ll do injustice to ourselves,” he noted. “As a judge, I have seen far too many academically-gifted young people who were once promising difference-makers, but they threw it all away. They had talent and promise but failed to reach their full capability.” They sometimes misused their skills and abilities for criminal activity, Morgan explained. “We can do better. Dr. King would have us to do better. Students, remember to not only lift yourself higher but also lift up your community.”
Too many students, he said, do not take full advantage of their educational opportunities. “If you throw away your opportunity to education, you will find yourself relegated to a life with limited options,” Morgan said. “Education is a sturdy key to unlock the gateway to living the legacy of Dr. King and making a difference.” He urged each audience member to “be a Vanguard for change.” Morgan added, in reference to the VGCC mascot, “What better place to say that than the land of the Vanguards?”
Before Morgan spoke, VGCC President Dr. Stelfanie Williams recognized special guests, including U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who represents North Carolina’s first congressional district. He discussed Dr. King and the history of the civil rights movement. “The public life of Dr. King lasted only 13 years,” Butterfield recalled. “You can’t just look at those 13 years in a vacuum; you have to look at it in the context of history,” he said, taking the audience from the abolition of slavery through the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act in the 1960s. “We have so many things to be proud of, so please understand the connection between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the progress that we enjoy today.”
The theme of the event, which was sponsored by the VGCC Male Mentoring Success Initiative and the Student Government Association , was “Living the Legacy: Making a Difference.” Dr. Angela Ballentine, the college’s vice president of academic affairs, said that through the celebration, “we are not just looking back on the historic legacy of Dr. King and other leaders of the civil rights movement, but instead, we are bringing that legacy to life by how we choose to make a difference in our communities, today and tomorrow…. We can make a difference by obtaining all the education we can and by promoting educational excellence, which in turn expands access to the American dream.”
Anthony Pope, co-coordinator of the college’s mentoring initiative, added that “Dr. King was a man of action, and he truly exemplified what it means to serve. His legacy will never be forgotten, because he made a difference.”
The VGCC event had a service component, as attendees were encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, which will be donated to the Henderson-based charitable organization, Area Christians Together in Service (ACTS).
The program also featured inspirational music performed by a choir of VGCC faculty, staff, students and alumni. VGCC alumnus Leonte Parker of Oxford was the soloist for “Made a Way.” VGCC Academic & Career Coach Sherri Alston also sang a solo later in the program.
For more information on male mentoring at VGCC, contact co-coordinators Anthony Pope at email@example.com or (252) 738-3395, or Michael Farmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (252) 738-3234.
Above: N.C. Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan delivers remarks during the VGCC Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday program. Seated at right, listening, is VGCC Male Mentoring Success Initiative co-coordinator Anthony Pope. (VGCC photo)
Above: A choir that included VGCC faculty, staff, students and alumni performs during the college’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday program. In the foreground is soloist and VGCC alumnus Leonte Parker. (VGCC photo)
More photos: Check out our album on Flickr !
Watch: Video of the entire ceremony (starts at about 18 minutes in)