Mid-Michigan events celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Mid-Michigan events celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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(01/20/14) - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy lives on through events all over Mid-Michigan.

Many events were aimed at community service and recognizing people who make the world a better place to live.

A Unity luncheon was held at The Dow Event Center, a Delta College professor - who has fought for diversity all her life - was honored, and the next generation walked a mile in Dr. King's shoes.

The walk started at the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy on the city's west side.

Bundled up from head to toe, this group of kids, teens and adults made the short walk over the Genesee Avenue bridge to the city's east side.

Gamma Kappa Youth Group member Bria Smith feels it's a symbolic walk for many reasons.

"Even though it's a day off of school, it's not a day off," she said.

The younger generation may not know first-hand the struggles of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but they know it's important to never forget.

"Just because of everything that they went through and we didn't have to do that, it's just, you need to appreciate what you already have," Smith said.

"It was cold. My feet were hurting, but, I mean, it was for a great cause," said Ashley Jackson.

Jackson grew up in Saginaw, but now goes to Utica High School. She is looking forward to college. She believes Dr. King made her path a little easier.

After the walk, there was a rally.

"I'm following my own dreams just like Martin Luther King did," Jackson said.

Once the walk was done outside, the MLK observance moved inside for the luncheon and awards.

Delta College biology professor, Dr. Charissa Urbano, earned the 'Spirit of Martin Luther King Junior Award'.

From AIDS education to anti-bullying education, to a diversity class, Dr. Urbano has worked tirelessly to make the world - and Delta College - a better place.

Vonnie Jackson was invited to the Unity Luncheon in Saginaw to share in one of her favorite professor's big day.

"I'm a child of the 60's, born in 1953, and in the Mississippi Delta," she said.

Jackson says she grew up in a world that lacked diversity, sensitivity and equality.

"Still had to deal with some prejudice that I had from my childhood," Jackson said.

She credits Dr. Urbano's 'Exploring Diversity' class at Delta College with helping her make sense of it all.

"She made me write about it. She just kept insisting," she said.

Over the years, the biology professor has encouraged a lot of people think, learn - and act - to make a difference.

Urbano says she's always tried to follow Dr. King's teachings.

"His vision for a better world, of opportunity and dignity for all," she said.

Urbano, a college athlete, remembers one of her first battles.

"In the early days of Title 9, we kind of had to fight for everything we got, including gym time," she said.

From the basketball court to the classroom and beyond, this 'Spirit of Martin Luther King Junior Award' winner says there's still more to be done.

"The challenges that are still present here in America have much to do with the fact that there still isn't equality. We talk about poverty, we talk about the haves versus the have nots. I mean we see it at Delta everyday," she said.

Delta College's president called Urbano one of the school's "most passionate and dedicated faculty members".

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