“We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back." Dr. Martin Luther King
In 1977, Dr. Ellison – again ahead of his time – created one of the first Martin Luther King Jr. events in the United States as a celebration of King’s voice and vision of civil rights and racial harmony. It took another six years for President Ronald Reagan to sign into law the King Holiday Bill.
Dr. Ellison wanted to celebrate an American icon at a campus he knew would embrace the message of Reverend King. With help from students and faculty, Dr. Ellison led the inaugural celebration with quotes from King’s speeches and sermons and a pageant of song, dance and music.
Over the years the event evolved into a yearly dialogue and exploration of what King’s “Dream” for America meant to students, faculty, administrators and the community they served.
In the late 1980s, Tri-C launched the Martin Luther King Youth Leadership program for high school student leaders to learn techniques of non-violent social change. The program was created by Dr. Dorothy Salem, a Tri-C graduate who came back to the College to teach history, specializing in African-American history. The program furthered the vision established by Dr. Ellison to create a citadel for King’s thoughts and aspirations.