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Saginaw teacher and activist holds MLK memories


Lula Woodard will be an honoree in Saginaw’s main Martin Luther King holiday event, and she feels a direct connection.

During her Alabama childhood, she observed home-state civil rights actions in Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham. Her home was in Tuscaloosa, and she recalls family members being employed at the University of Alabama and forced to remain overnight during riots when then governor, George Wallace, famously stood in the schoolhouse door to combat integration.

“This is such an honor, because I grew up with Dr. King as a little black girl, following all the social issues, seeing the rocks and tomatoes being thrown and all of those terrible events with my own eyes,” reflects the retired Saginaw Public Schools teacher, still active in an array of worthy causes and as a Delta College adjunct professor of English.

Prior to coming to Saginaw in 1980,  she completed her master of arts degree on that same University of Alabama campus, completing her personal circle of justice achieved.

Woodard’s honor will take place as part of the annual Unity March on Jan. 17, beginning at 9:45 a.m. , with a walk along Washington Avenue from the intersection of Hayden and Franklin to The Dow Event Center for an 11 a.m. lunch program. All arrangements are pending on the latest news in the pandemic. See the Facebook page for Saginaw Alphas, representing the Iota Chi Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., and the attached flier for more information.

Woodard will receive the Spirit of MLK Award from the Delta College Black Faculty and Staff Association.

For more than 20 years, she has volunteered through her church, Victorious Believers Ministries, and with Women of Colors, a group that promotes diversity and civil rights. She’s a certified substance abuse prevention and recovery coach, and also has enlisted with the newly formed Saginaw Citizens United for Justice, and wherever she sees a need for action.

“The civil rights progress of Dr. King’s time is being sabotaged today” by far-right demonstrators, Woodard says, “and so we all must shine our lights so that people can see, to be a voice for peace. As John Lewis always would say, we need to cause ‘good trouble.’ “

Iota Chi Lambda of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity ,Inc., also will salute Mamie Thorns, Saginaw Valley State University’s chief diversity officer,  Unity Award; and Bob Johnson, news leader for The Saginaw News and The Bay City Times, Community Service Award. Dr. Thorns’ civic leadership has included the Saginaw N.A.A.C.P., Saginaw Future and the Saginaw Community Foundation. Johnson is board president for First Ward Community Center and has served on the Saginaw Library Commission, among other local involvements.

The keynote speaker is Dawn Hinton, director of S.V.S.U.’s’ Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, who volunteers as president of the Saginaw Housing Commission and as a planning leader of the Saginaw African Cultural Festival.

Iota Chi Lambda of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., was organizing MLK birthday celebrations even before the federal holiday became official in 1986, with strong advocacy from Saginaw-born Stevie Wonder. 

Luncheon tickets, with a minimum $40 donation, are available by calling (989) 859-2602 or (989) 860-4146. Online viewers may send donations to APA International Educational Foundation Scholarship Fund, P.O. 1531, Saginaw, MI 48605.



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