January 9, 2021

Nikole Hannah-Jones, who spearheaded a New York Times examination of how slavery shaped our nation, will be the keynote speaker at the 2021 Metropolitan Community College Chancellor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Luncheon.

The virtual (online) fundraiser for MCC student scholarships will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 15. Individual $125 tickets are still available and can be purchased by using this link: https://bit.ly/38kDYTe. Deadline to order tickets: noon Thursday, Jan. 14. Find more details at mcckc.edu/mlkluncheon.

The MLK program will examine the current state of social and racial justice in America. Kansas City Royals TV commentator Joel Goldberg will serve as moderator. Elizabeth Alex, a member of the MCC Foundation board of directors, will emcee.

Hannah-Jones won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for commentary after the New York Times launched the 1619 Project in August 2019 — 400 years after the first enslaved Africans were brought to the English colony of Virginia. The prize board described the project as seeking “to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, prompting public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution.”

The enterprise became a much-talked-about (and sometimes criticized) phenomenon. The Washington Post’s headline on a recent story: “How the 1619 Project Took Over 2020.” It has expanded to classroom curriculum and a forthcoming series of books and Oprah Winfrey-produced films.

“Vast numbers of Americans have appreciated this work,” Hannah-Jones told CNN. “It has not made them hate their country. It has made them better understand their country. And really what the 1619 Project is, (is) a charge for us to work to live up to the majestic ideals of our founding.”

During the virtual event, five MCC students will be announced as the 2021 winners of the Chancellor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, good for one year of tuition at the College. Also, Kansas City muralist Phil “Sike” Shafer is creating a 4-foot-by-5-foot canvas piece inspired by the Dr. King quote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Sike’s mini-mural will be auctioned off at the MLK event. Later, 8-by-10 prints of the piece are expected to be available for purchase.

Meanwhile, a virtual cocktail hour the evening before (Jan. 14) will include the presentation of MCC’s first Alvin Brooks Kansas Citian Inspiration Award, launched to recognize everyday citizens for “their good works and dedication to community betterment.” Brooks, a former Kansas City councilman and founder of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime (and who has ties to the College), will be honored along with the award’s inaugural recipient.

The presenting sponsor of the 2021 Chancellor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Luncheon is CommunityAmerica Credit Union.