Educator, Lavon Johnson, Speaks to the Club

About Martin Luther King, Jr.



President Grodnik called the meeting to order. Social Committee chairs Susan Ginther and Mick Faloon were thanked for spearheading a group of Rotarians attending ‘The Odd Couple’ by the Elkhart Civic Theatre at the Bristol Opera House. Also, Cindy Lindahl and Greg Anders were thanked for organizing and printing the club’s membership directory.

Ryan Bender, from Centier Bank, became the newest Elkhart Rotarian.

Jeff New was no longer the "new" Sergeant.  Monies collected by Jeff and all Sergeants are donated to local charities at the end of the year.

Levon Johnson, Chancellor at Pierre Moran Middle School in Elkhart, was the speaker. His talk focused on Martin Luther King, Jr., the man, the holiday, what he saw on the mountaintop, and how far we have to go. Mr. Johnson said it is amazing that everything we know of the man really centers on the last 13 years of his life when he was between the ages of 26 and 39, when he was assassinated. In that time, King went from an unknown to a man who sat with Presidents and walked with Ghandi.

While Johnson’s admitted that his speech kept evolving over time due to current events, the main points were:

1.       Education is the key to opportunity; everyone must have that opportunity.

2.       Any plan that is designed to be separate but equal will not work.

3.       Success to get ahead will be given to those who work harder than others.

4.       Once achieving a new level, remember to ‘leave a ladder up’ for others.

5.       Stereotypes are dangerous; ‘painting’ with too few colors misses too much detail.

6.       We all want to leave our community better than where we found it.

Levon noted the conversations he had with his parents about race were different than the one he has had with his children. He said, “Martin Luther King pointed us to the mountain top. We’re certainly closer, but we still have more of that mountain to climb.” Mr. Johnson ended by saying, “This is the most financially successful country in the world. There are more millionaires (nearly 10 million) than anywhere, yet this year, 50% of the nation’s children now receive free or reduced school lunch. Living with food insecurity does not allow children an equal opportunity. It makes their future success much more difficult to achieve even if they work harder. We’ve made too many gains to stop now.”

Upcoming Programs:

Jan 26, 2015        Pete McCown, Elkhart County Community Foundation

Feb 2, 2015         Matt Putnam talks about his time in Afghanistan