AABE® Atlanta King Day 2012 Celebrates the Legacy, Reignites the Dream
Keynote Speaker Michael Lomax Sounds the Alarm for Education
“It seemed the whole city stood still on the day Dr. King was assassinated.”
So began Michael Lomax’s telling of a story so compelling and impactful, many were on the edge of their seats at the recent King Day 2012 Program and Southern Style Excellence Award luncheon presented by the Atlanta Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy and the Energy Exchange. This year’s annual event was held at Georgia Power headquarters in Downtown Atlanta.
Cherryl M. Harris, president, Atlanta Chapter, AABE, discussed the occasion and introduced Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, who served as keynote speaker. The annual event aims to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a speaker who embodies his ideals. Clearly, Lomax shares Dr. King’s passion for education.
Lomax first met Dr. King when he visited Lomax’s Los Angeles home for ice cream, cake, and coffee. In sharing the childhood memory, Lomax reminded the audience that Dr. King was an ordinary man who, with the help of education, achieved extraordinary things.
As one of six children, Lomax spent part of his early years in Tuskegee, Ala., where he attended a segregated school. He went on to attend Morehouse College and the Interdenominational Theological Center. Famously, he launched an unsuccessful bid for mayor of Atlanta, losing to “another intelligent, articulate” man – Bill Campbell.
He also took time to praise Georgia Power for investing in education. “It’s God’s work,” he added. He then cited a series of sobering statistics about the state of black education in America:
· More than half of black boys don’t finish high school;
· Sixty percent of black children take a remedial course in college; most will take two or three.
He compared the education challenge with a Georgia Power business challenge.
“When Georgia Power has a problem without a solution, what does it do? You research and develop an innovative solution,” said Lomax.
That’s what needs to happen with education. Charter schools, he added, are working to do things differently. He stressed the importance of innovation and change in education to help our schools be more successful. Education was at the core of Dr. King’s values, and it’s what he and other civil rights leaders sacrificed so much for. That said, our public schools “should and can be the best.”
He closed by reiterating that improving our education system needs to be a priority, as it is critical to our future. And after all, it is what Dr. King and our other civil rights heroes fought and died for.
“When I was growing up, our future was determined by the color of our skin,” concluded Lomax. “That’s not true today, and education is the key.”
Article submitted by Delitha Morrow-Coles
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