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Veterans Memorial Courthouse – 313 W. Kalamazoo St., Lansing
Ingham County Courthouse – 341 S. Jefferson Ave., Mason
LANSING, MI -- Before Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. there was Asa Philip Randolph. Born in 1889, Randolph was the greatest black labor leader in American history and the father of the modern American civil rights movement.
During a speech to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, A. Philip Randolph said, “Justice is never given; it is exacted and the struggle must be continuous for freedom is never a final fact, but a continuing evolving process to higher and higher levels of human, social, economic, political and religious relationship.”
A. Philip Randolph Institute Lansing Chapter presented their 10th Annual Community Role Model Celebration “Our Youth Depend On Us, Let Us Be Accountable!” A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) is a non-profit “Get-Out-The-Vote” voter education organization.
This year's recipients of the Unsung Hero awards are Lyle Birchman, Julio Cesar Guerrero, Rudolph V. Wilson and Luke Bunge. The honorees were congratulated for their leadership and volunteerism role in the lives of the youth in our community.
Olivia Boykins, Special Assistant to U.S. Congressman John Conyers, Jr., spoke about the impact that A. Philip Randolph had during the Civil Rights movement regarding discrimination and lack of work for blacks and working people from all races. She said that he always fought for those who deserve social freedom and economic equity.
Boykins also spoke about mentoring our youth as an important part of giving back to our community. She lamented, “It is up to us to contact the young people. It is so important that each of us go beyond our means. They are not going to come to us on their own. Role models see a need. Fill it. Make it happen.”
Rev. Lonnie J. Chipp, Pastor of New Mount Calvary Baptist Church located at 3800 W. Miller Road spoke about all being role models in the community. After the event he spoke about his church going into the community to pray for those in need.
The event highlighted the importance of role models and the importance of education and how our young people are engaged in social justice.
APRI also supports the community by teaching adults and youths the importance of exercising their right to vote. During the school year, APRI sets up voting booths and provides assistance with filling out the voter registration forms.
Paula Simon, former President of APRI, started the high school program in 2003 and APRI registered 564 students throughout the tri-county area during that year.
Simon said, “High school students voices were not being heard. We were not listening to them. They needed to be present at the polls and their participation numbers were so low.”
With the help of the National Honor Society at Eastern High School, APRI registered over 75 students at Eastern High School. They will also be visiting Everett, Harry Hill and Sexton.
Teresa Tran, one of the volunteers, said, “Everyone says that one vote doesn't count but now that I have registered to vote I have a different feeling. Helping other students register has shown me even more how important it is.”
This was originally printed in the May 9, 2010 - May 22, 2010.