Martin Luther King celebration at Oakwood Common spans generations

Photo courtesy of Oakwood Common Members of the youth troupe from LaShelle’s School of Dance.

Photo courtesy of Oakwood Common
Members of the youth troupe from LaShelle’s School of Dance.

DEARBORN – Laughter and tears were combined with joy and hope among those attending and participating in a remembrance celebration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at Oakwood Common. The event was open to residents, staff and guests.

The Henry Ford College chorus, led by Kevin Dewey, performed familiar songs of the American Civil Rights Movement, including “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” and “We Shall Overcome.”

Maude Todd and Otherie Love, residents of the senior living community, read well known excerpts from King’s speeches and writings.

These were followed by energetic and inspiring performances of African American dances by the youth troupe of LaShelle’s School of Dance in Oak Park.

“Their final dance about the civil rights struggle moved me to tears,” said Beth Rager, an Oakwood Common resident who recently returned to Michigan after living more than 40 years in Arlington, Va.  “What a wonderful performance.”

Guest speaker Donnell White, executive director of NAACP Detroit branch, said the intergenerational event of all races and backgrounds reflected what the civil rights leader envisioned when he spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C, on Aug. 28, 1963.

Shavon Baker, Oakwood Common’s activities supervisor, organized the remembrance celebration and closed the event with prayer and a quote from King.

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly,” Baker said. “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.”

“When I looked around the room, you could see and feel how much this special celebration impacted everyone,” said Donna Brandt, sales manager for Oakwood Common.