Unity over conflict was the cry Monday as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., day was remembered in Detroit.
"Angels and ministers of grace, defend us," Bankole Thompson, senior editor of the Michigan Chronicle, prayed, quoting William Shakespeare, as hundreds gathered for the observance in the Buerki Auditorium of Henry Ford Hospital.
A political news analyst at WDET 101 FM, Thompson complained of the "vicious assaults" on President Barack Obama, while William Jones, Jr., who heads Focus:HOPE, reminded a crowd at the sprawling campus at 1355 Oakman Boulevard of "attack on voters' rights."
Speakers at Henry Ford Hospital, including Dr. Chad Audi, recipient of a health education achievement award, and leader of the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries in Detroit, called for community service "as Governor Rick Snyder "limited welfare benefits without a plan," Audi charged.
A "cry for unity" in a coordinated and organized way to serve needy and homeless residents was proposed by Audi.
"Step up, step aside, or get rolled over," Thompson said, motivating participants to rise from their seats while thunderously applauding amid a day sprinkled with music, memories, and, more, as praise was voiced for countless volunteers, and, hospital and Detroit Rescue Mission Mission staff, who filled the room.
"Time is always right to do what is right," Thompson said, quoting from the iconic civil rights and nonviolent champion, King Jr., who was murdered in 1968. King would have been 83 Monday.
Founders of Focus:HOPE, the late Father William Cunnginham, and, Eleanor Josaitis who died of cancer at 79 this past August, were remembered for their "servant and selfless leadership," according to Thomas Armstead, who gave up a job to help start Focus:HOPE in '68, shortly after civil unrest in Motown.
Josaitis believed that the King holiday should be "a day on, not a day off," organizers said.