Monday January 20th marked the 36th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Luncheon at the Delta by Marriott in Downtown Utica. The hall was filled to capacity with the greater portion of elected officials there to honor the man, the day and those who were chosen to be recognized.
The work of the Frontiers includes their flagship program, the Junior Frontiers which was formed to enhance leadership, scholarship, citizenship and community neighborhood service skills in a group of hard-working young people beginning at the age of 10.
The young people recognized that day for scholarly achievement were Eh Ahah Kyi, Allie Grande, and Trinity Clark. Ike Okereke of the Syracuse Jr. Frontiers and president of the National Jr. Frontiers addressed the crowd with a presentation that belied his age. One of the features of being in the Junior Frontiers is that they are groomed for public speaking, manners, and decorum along with the expectation of excellence in academics.
The Invocation was given by Dietra Harvey who was also a presenter of Community Service Awards. Donald Samuel and Kimberly Tobin served as Masters of Ceremonies. The Friends of the Frontiers was presented by Earl Crawford to Mr. Rocco Arcuri, accepting for Adirondack Bank, which among other things, provides Junior Frontiers with Financial Literacy training.
Mr. Jawwaad Rasheed delivered the Scholastic Achievement Awards to the above-mentioned scholars and Assemblywoman Buttenschon and Congressman Anthony Brindisi gave official commendations to the scholars.
Mr. Craig Minor announced the presentation of a check for financial support to their adopted school Watson Williams Elementary.
The guest speaker was the president of the Syracuse chapter of 100 Black Men, Mr. Vincent Love, who spoke eloquently on the importance of taking time to help others and the importance of inclusion in community service. Everyone needs to be at the table.
Love made the point that clubs, organizations, and even government agencies must reach beyond their own comfort zones to truly effectively engage the community for positive change. He told a distressing story of a father who lost his innocent 12-year-old to gun violence while going to the store by himself for the first time. A news reporter at the scene brashly asked what he may have regretted.
The father in his misery told the reporter that he wouldn’t have done anything different with his son. It was the other youth who needed guidance and love to correct his course. These are the youth we all need to focus on and provide for a better future.
Grady Faulkner and Diane Berry were recipients of the Community Service Awards for 2020. This annual event organized by U’nice Elliott-Jefferson for the past ten years has come to be a well-oiled machine where the community comes together in harmony and hope for a better future for us all. Closing remarks were given by MVF President Jawwaad Rasheed and the Benediction was delivered by Bro. Courtney Muhammad.
To quote MLK, “We may all have come here on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”