Pence joins hundreds for Martin Luther King Jr. celebration


By Eddie Castillo

INDIANAPOLIS – Hundreds of Hoosiers gathered at the Statehouse on Thursday to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and honor the civil rights leader.

Gov.Mike Pence telling the crowd that Martin Luther King is the leader of the civil rights movement. Photo by Eddie Castillo,

Gov.Mike Pence telling the crowd that Martin Luther King is the leader of the civil rights movement. Photo by Eddie Castillo,

This is the 22nd time the Statehouse has hosted an annual celebration that brings together a diverse group of people. Among the attendees was Gov. Mike Pence who spoke about King’s many accomplishments and impact on America history.

“We acknowledge that Dr. King was a leader in the civil rights movement in America, and perhaps more than any other American,” Pence said. “He was first and last an American leader. Someone who led, not part of the nation, but led all this nation to a better future and every American celebrates his legacy.”

The Indiana Civil Rights commission invited Gary Brackett, a former member of the Indianapolis Colts, to be the guest speaker. Brackett spoke about honoring King by reaching for goals and greatness.

“If I could do four things to promote the dream, it would be to do more, be more, reach more and achieve more,” Brackett said, “If you want to be great it’s going to be a challenge. Being great is very deliberate and you have to be deliberate about your goals. There is also no monopoly about greatness. There is greatness in everyone here.”

During the ceremony four people received awards for their work in continuing King’s dream. The Freedom Award was given to Shanel Poole, an Indiana State University graduate. Mia Gjeldum, a student of Lake Central high school, received the Passing of the Torch Award. Gjeldum wrote a song called ‘We are One Nation’ which she performed at the ceremony.

Shanel Poole proudly holds this year's Freedom Award. Photo by Eddie Castillo,

Shanel Poole proudly holds this year’s Freedom Award. Photo by Eddie Castillo,

Wendy Robinson, the superintendent of Fort Wayne community schools, received this year’s chairman’s award for her dedication to public education. The Justice Award was given to Calvin Hawkins, judge of the superior court, for his devotion to social justice in the United States.

Jamal Smith, executive director of the Indiana Civil Rights commission, stood up to give final remarks and thanked Pence and Brackett for participating in the celebration.

“I want to personally give thanks to the governor for taking time out of his schedule to be here and address the crowd,” Jamal Smith said, “It is not often that young people get the opportunity to be here among legislators and Gary Brackett for crying out.”

Eddie Castillo is a reporter for, a news wesbsite powered by Franklin College journalism students.


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