January 30, 2018 | By Jake Weber | Watch event on YouTube
Michael Williams, '78, is a funny guy, with the great gift of using humor to drill into uncomfortable subjects. The former mayor of Albion and current Albion College trustee celebrated and challenged what makes this community great during the 2018 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation and Community Celebration, held January 29 at the downtown Bohm Theatre.
The laughter hadn't ended from his opening joke when Williams made the first pointed observations of his keynote. "How many times have you heard something like, 'Albion College is trying to take over?' 'Those old white people in Marshall think they know everything?' I know none of you have said that, but you've heard it," said Williams, president and CEO of Orchards Children's Services, which serves southeastern Michigan.
The challenge, he said, is to stop and look at the people around you, and not just listen to what others have to say. He named many people—College staff and community members—who helped and influenced him as a student and as mayor. "Mike Turner, Frank Bonta, Tillman Cornelius … because they lived, I'm better for it," Williams said.
Reflecting on Dr. King and Harriet Tubman, Williams noted that their success came from the courage to always move forward. "You can't run through the forest looking backwards, saying, 'I'm glad I missed that tree,'" he stated.
Williams closed with an interactive affirmation, making statements to which the crowd responded, "I can do something about that." From Harrington Elementary School to community diversity, Williams led the crowd in remembering their ability to affect change. "Now," he said, "What are you going to do?"