Jan. 27, 2023 --
District parent and professor of Communication Studies at Cuyahoga Community College Dr. Derrick Williams described Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights work as a family affair. So it was only fitting that he invited his children to speak during his keynote address at Boston University’s 2023 Annual Celebration of the Lives and Legacies of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King: A Sense of New Direction.
Roxboro Middle School 7th grader Meldrrick and Roxboro Elementary School 3rd grader Ella were both honored to join their father on the stage at BU’s George Sherman Union on Monday, January 16 in Boston. With opening remarks from Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, the CH-UH youngsters were nervous but excited.
“I was really nervous because the Mayor of Boston and all those people were watching,” said Meldrrick. “But I really enjoyed the opportunity to speak at such an event.” He read an original essay that he’d written about Dr. King’s superpower: curiosity.
After mentioning the powers of Wonder Woman, Superman and Spiderman, Meldrrick goes on to say, “The superpower I have is just as amazing and it is attainable by anyone. It is curiosity. Instead of casting webs, you can cast very interesting and important questions … Curiosity can lead to innovations, discoveries and strategies for social justice and peace.”
He describes how Dr. King looked at the world around him and wondered why things were the way they were and how he might help create change.
Not to be outdone, his younger sister took the microphone and asked, “But Mel, what about Coretta?” She then went on to read a poem describing the civil rights leader using the letters of his first name. “C is for Courageous …” complete with vigorous nodding from the women in the audience when she read, “R is for Respect … Ms. Coretta Scott King deserves just as much respect.”
Both children reported receiving kudos and congratulations following their presentations. “A lot of people talked to me and said how great my speech was,” said Meldrrick.
“It was super fun,” agreed Ella. “I was very happy to be at his college and show my respect for him.”
Their father, who was selected to speak over the typical New York Times best-selling authors or professors from elite institutions to represent Dr. King’s commitment to improving the lives of everyday people, was immensely proud of his children. “So much of my work is centered on my family,” a point he shared with the program committee when he suggested including his children. “As soon as I pitched it, they loved it,” he said.
Joined by wife and mother Megan Jones-Williams, the family took full advantage of their first trip to Boston, visiting the harbor where the Boston Tea Party took place and the African Meeting House, one of the oldest standing Black Baptist Churches in America. They even had the chance to view some of Dr. King’s original papers from when he earned his doctorate at Boston University. And the children got standing ovations.
The full presentation can be viewed here
, with Meldrrick and Ella speaking just around the 50-minute mark.