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Posted on Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Celebrating MLK Day: Union members honor civil rights leader with volunteer work

By Danny Shaw


International Vice President of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Roger Toussaint, of Atlanta, Ga., puts the finishing touches of paint around a door knob at the Ann Arbor Community Center on Friday.

Chris Asadian |

While area residents plan their celebrations for Martin Luther King Jr. Day this Monday, some are getting a jump on honoring the civil-rights leader.

Twenty-five labor union members eager to work surprised the Rev. Yolanda Whiten, executive director of the Ann Arbor Community Center, on Friday morning.

The group worked at the center through the afternoon painting the interior.

"It is amazing," Whiten said. "It's thousands of dollars worth of work that they are doing for free."

The labor union members offered their services to various non-profit businesses as a part of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization's annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance and National Conference.

That's one effort encouraging people to use MLK Day as a day of volunteering and community service.

The conference, which continues through Monday, is one of many events occurring this weekend in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


Trade Workers Union Elections Committee member Aquilino Castro, of New York, rolls primer on a door at the Ann Arbor Community Center.

Chris Asadian |

The University of Michigan has several events planned as part of the annual MLK Symposium. The day-long celebration features a keynote by Michele Norris, an NPR radio host and previous ABC News correspondent, among other events.

Also on Monday, the main branch of the Ann Arbor District Library is hosting Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday with Poetry event. Visitors of all ages can join Jeff Kass, Neutral Zone's literary arts director, for a poetry program on civil rights, equality, peace and justice. The hour-long event starts at 2 p.m.

The Ypsilanti Public Library is offering events Monday for the entire family at the Michigan Avenue branch 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and at the Whittaker Road branch 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Visitors can expect live music, documentaries and crafts all geared toward celebrating diversity.

For a complete list of Monday's events, click here.

Contact reporter Danny Shaw at 734-623-2544 or Elizabeth Edwards contributed to this article.



Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

Born & Raised got it right.....unions are people. Those that have cared enough thru out the years to be the only entity that continues the fight for workers rights world wide...there are those out there trained to go on good news reports and bash anything that volunteers do to help others whether union or non union.....most unions have tried to set standards of volunteerism & good, but there is continued ignorance out there that listen to the "general" media and continue to be blind. No matter the story you link to and try to give a black eye to all unions, your a weak excuse of a human to bash others where they truly care to help. Probably paid by the same group that when unions are trying to organize workers, company officials will pay or coerce others to call workers at home and harass them claiming to be a union supporter to give the impression that unions are bad.....well, the ones who are educated on facts figure out real quick what is going on. That goes right along with "if you will fall for that, you will fall for anything" line of thinking. Way to go TWU for helping as most unions have done all along. Thanks Ann Arbor for printing a great story!


Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : 10:50 p.m.

Unions in support of volunteerism huh? Since when did they shift gears from this? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>