Eastern Michigan University hosts capacity crowd for MLK Luncheon and speaker Dr. Sampson Davis

Students honored for exemplifying the work of MLK

Dr. Sampson Davis at a podium on stage speaks to the crowd at the President's Luncheon celebrating MLK.
Dr. Sampson Davis delivers the keynote address to the large crowd at the President's Luncheon.

YPSILANTI – "We don't know where we're going if we don't know where we came from." Words spoken by Dr. Sampson Davis, emergency physician, speaker, best-selling author and TV personality, to a sellout audience during Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. President's Luncheon to honor the activist’s hard work and dedication.

Eastern Michigan University honored the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the 37th year, with various events occurring over an extended weekend. The celebration closed out with over 500 campus and community members joining together to celebrate and engage in dialogue surrounding issues of race and inequalities that are still prevalent today.

“As Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that,’” said Doris Fields, interim chief diversity officer at Eastern. “MLK’s teachings still resonate today that we must work together as a united front for a free, equal and just society.”

The 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration theme of ‘Remembering the Dream’ included academic programs, conferences, performances, scholarships, awards, a keynote address, and more.

"Our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration is once again a point of great pride for the University," said Eastern Michigan University President James Smith. "The remarks by keynote speaker Dr. Sampson Davis about creating opportunities for young people to see and emulate the people they wish to become in their future were very well received. From yesterday's luncheon to the opening ceremony last Friday, which featured powerful performances by members of our Forensics team, we fully embraced this year's theme, 'Remembering the Dream.'

Some of the MLK award winners, names to come
Left to right: Dr. Doris Fields, Jemone Cochran II, Makaiya Snead, Naomi Hardin, Anya Fuller, Te'Nia Richardson, and Tray McGuire.

Following Dr. Davis’ address, the luncheon included a scholarship recipient presentation to support students who have exemplified the dreams of Dr. King throughout their college careers. Students were awarded the following categories:


  • MLK Student Scholarship: The MLK Student Scholarship recognizes an Eastern Michigan University student who has demonstrated a commitment to promoting respect and improving the quality of life for all people consistent with the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and service to Eastern Michigan University or the southeastern Michigan community. The recipient received a $1,000 award. 

    • Recipient: Jemone Cochran, senior, mechanical engineering technology major


  • Evan Strand Scholarship: Modeled after the Nobel Peace Prize, this $1,000 scholarship is awarded to an EMU student who has made significant contributions to the advancement of cultural understanding and acceptance of diversity at the university.

    • Recipient: Naomi Hardin, junior, political science major


  • Presidential Difference Maker Scholarship: The Presidential Difference Maker Scholarship is a $2,500 award provided to a currently enrolled full-time undergraduate or graduate student who has made a significant contribution on-campus or off-campus that enriches the lives of others.

    • Recipient: Alex Blanco, senior, accounting major


  • MLK “Remembering the Dream” Scholarship Contest: The MLK “Remembering the Dream” Scholarship awarded three undergraduate students a $500 scholarship based on an essay or a multimodal presentation that best demonstrated how the event connected to the ideas of Dr. King.

  • Recipients: 

    • Te'Nia Richardson, sophomore, environmental science and society interdisciplinary major with a concentration in environmental biology studies

    • Monena Lamb, senior, art major

    • Jada Norman, freshman, psychology major


  • Humanitarian Award: The Humanitarian Award recognized individuals from Eastern Michigan University’s campus community or a member of the surrounding community who exemplified the values and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

    • Recipient: Makaiya Snead, senior, political science major


"My special thanks to event co-chairs, Dr. Doris Fields, interim chief diversity officer, and Tray McGuire, assistant director of strategic initiatives and engagement for the Office of Alumni Relations, as well as the dozens of other students, faculty and staff who supported this outstanding celebration,” said Smith.

For information about the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration and President’s Luncheon, go to the MLK website or email dfields1@emich.edu.

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

January 18, 2023

Written by:
Melissa Thrasher

Melissa Thrasher