This year’s MLK celebration called for political action


“It’s been a long
A long time coming, but I know
A change gon’ come
Oh yes, it will”
Same Cooke, “A change is gonna come.”

By Charles Sercombe
Perhaps because it’s a presidential election year –but maybe, also, because this country is so politically divided – that this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast had a certain air of urgency.
The theme of the breakfast was “A change is gonna come” – which is a song that the late soul singer Sam Cooke made popular. The song referenced the civil rights struggles of the black community as it was in the 1950s and 1960s.
The annual breakfast was supposed to be held on Jan. 15, but the event was canceled due to the extreme cold on that day. That call came from the Hamtramck Public School Superintendent Jaleelah Ahmed.
The breakfast is sponsored each year by the Concerned Women of Hamtramck, which has been hosting it for 26 years.
A highlight of the morning event was the annual talent competition among HPS students. As usual, students presented a variety of poems, and dance and musical performances.
An unscheduled appearance was made by actor Gill Harper, who is seeking to be elected to the U.S. Senate seat that Sen. Debbie Stabenow is retiring from at the end of her term this year.
Harper is running as a Democrat, and he offered a lively motivational-style talk, walking off from the dais to interact with the audience.
Harper said Hamtramck is a model city for inclusion in regard to races and religions.
“Hamtramck represents, to me, the greatest city,” he said.
Harper noted that the concept of multi-ethnic inclusion is “under attack” in the nation. Speaking to the adults and students in the room, he said it’s up to all of us “to do something” to bring about change.
“We’re in this together,” Harper said.

Echoing that sentiment was co-organizer, and President of the Concerned Women of Hamtramck, Madelyn Porter, who said “We are for the people.”
Noticeably absent were the mayor and city councilmembers, as well as most of the school board. Only Boardmembers Daz’Shavon Hall and Abdulmalik Algahaim attended.
HPS Superintendent Ahmed was also out on a medical leave.
Former Superintendent Tom Niczay encouraged students to shoot big when they consider careers.
“Whatever career path you choose, shoot for the moon, and if by chance you fall short, you’ll land on a star,” he said.
Rounding out the morning breakfast was the district’s own Eric Porter, who gave a soulful rendition of “A Change is Gonna Come.”
How he does not have a recording contract by now will continue to be one of life’s mysteries – he is that powerful of a singer.
Posted Feb. 23, 2024

This article was edited and updated for clarity.

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