In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and in special commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his passing, the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity hosted a program for the Department of Energy entitled, “MLK50 Forward—Together We Win With Love For Humanity.”
As colleagues entered the auditorium, the tone was immediately set with black and white feeds of the moving words of Dr. King in the background. There was reverence in the auditorium for the power of his message, something that still resonates loudly in the 50 years that have unfolded since Dr. King’s passing.
Ann Augustyn, Mistress of Ceremony and Principal Deputy Director, Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, opened the program by welcoming all guests and outlining the event’s sequence. Following her gracious welcome, The Virginia Union University (VUU) Choir took the stage to perform a powerful rendition of the National Anthem. VUU was founded in 1865 to give emancipated slaves an opportunity to pursue an education and is designated a Historically Black College and University (HBCU).
Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette followed, recounting the courage that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. displayed throughout his life. He highlighted the intense bigotry Dr. King faced early on and the immense resolve that underpinned his relentless efforts to change, educate, and enlighten the world. In the Deputy Secretary’s introduction of Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., he emphasized her lifelong commitment to carry on his message of equality, hope, and perseverance.
Dr. Alveda King enthralled the audience with her grace and sustained positivity. Her heartfelt memories from her childhood interactions with her uncle gave the audience a rare glimpse into his life and personality. Dr. Alveda King effortlessly interwove the energy that fueled her uncle’s passion for inclusion and the role DOE plays in sustaining the continued vitality of our nations’ energy future. She took a special interest in the quotes that were meticulously selected and placed in the honorary program. Some of her favorite quotes included:
“It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people.”
“Never, never be afraid to do what is right. Especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the ones we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”
Dr. Alveda King challenged each of us to be the light, and the energy, for one another.
The Virginia Union University Choir then offered two beautiful selections, including “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and a soulful rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The VUU Choir embodied the grace of the moment with their beautiful and powerful voices, in conjunction with Dr. Alveda King’s eloquent words; many members of the audience were moved to tears. The VUU choir was integral to DOE’s tribute for such an amazing visionary.
Following the video “MLK50: Reflections From the Mountaintop,” Acting Deputy Director of the Office of Civil Rights, Pat Zarate, and Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette presented Dr. Alveda King and The Virginia Union University Choir a plaque to memorialize their contributions to the program. To enhance the choir students’ visit to Washington, D.C., Mike Colbert from the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity secured fifty tickets to the National Museum of African American History and Culture for a visit later that day.
The program was a special remembrance, and we hope the spirit of the event lives on at the Department of Energy.