Morehouse College honored Stevie Wonder and Representative John Conyers (D-Mich) with the school’s Presidential Renaissance Medallion of Merit in Maryland on Friday night. Stevie Wonder, whose son Kwame goes to Morehouse, accepted his award and gave a brief speech where he encouraged everyone to keep dreaming.
“I can touch the reality of the King monument,” Stevie said. “I touched the King monument and I knew that I touched a dream. And it touched me as it should touch us in that special place in our hearts, where we hold dreams close and sacred.”
Stevie then thanked fellow honoree John for his spirit “on that day when you said, ‘We must make this a holiday.’” The Michigan representative was honored for his efforts over 15 years to create the MLK holiday. John said, “This is a validation of all of the energy, the struggle, the resources, the commitment, the good days and those not so good, that went into accomplishing a public holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Stevie also took a moment to comment on the current political climate, urging us to find the spirit that helped Americans to establish the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and monument.
“It’s going to take strong people that are committed, of every single ethnicity, culture, party, whatever that might be, to say, ‘Listen," Stevie advised. "We’ve got to work together for the good of this nation and for the people.’ Anything less is unacceptable.”
Then Stevie did what we were all crossing our fingers for with high hopes. He sang. Before he walked over to the piano he told the crowd, “I’m going to leave you with a song. But I don’t want you to remember what I sang, I want you to remember what I said. Is that possible?”
There was a roar of laughter, but a few people promised to remember. Then Stevie sat behind the piano and tickled the keys to the tune of “Love’s in Need of Love Today.” Johnny Gill came out to back Stevie up near the end of the song. Then Stevie decided to leave the stage with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday,” the song he wrote for Martin Luther King Jr. in 1981.
Everyone could have gone home satisfied after Stevie left the stage, but there was more. Johnny Gill, Dennis Edwards and Eddie Levert gave energetic performances that had women of many generations on their feet.
Watch Stevie’s performance and speech below.
—Sabrina M. Parker