Ed Gordon, Willie Lanier, Mayor Lucas to speak at Friday’s MLK luncheon

Journalist and author Ed Gordon will be featured at the Chancellor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Luncheon.

Veteran journalist and TV personality Ed Gordon will be the featured panelist at the Metropolitan Community College Chancellor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Luncheon, to be held Friday, Jan. 17, at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown, 200 W. 12th St.

The event is sold out. About 800 guests will be in attendance.

Former Kansas City Chiefs player Willie Lanier will be a special guest panelist along with Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas. Steve Kraske, host of “Up to Date” on KCUR-FM, will be the moderator.

The annual luncheon is a fundraiser for the MCC Foundation, which awards a variety of student scholarships and supports other student success initiatives. About half of MCC students qualify for grants or scholarships to help offset the cost of tuition, books and other educational expenses.

“Events like the MLK luncheon showcase what we are about at MCC and what we do for students,” Chancellor Kimberly Beatty says. “We offer greater access by making education affordable, and we embrace diversity and inclusion.”

Willie Lanier

Five MCC students — one from each campus — will be awarded Chancellor’s MLK Scholarships at the event, good for one year of MCC tuition.

“The most important and rewarding part of my job is enabling students to go to school with little or no debt,” MCC Foundation Executive Director Jessica Ramirez says. “Events like the Chancellor’s MLK Luncheon allow us to provide that opportunity for our students.”

Gordon’s book “Conversations in Black: On Power, Politics, and Leadership” was published this week (Jan. 14) by Hatchette Book Group.

The book, described by the publisher as “sage wisdom for navigating race in a radically divisive America,” is a natural capstone to a celebrated journalism career spanning more than three decades. Gordon has worked for NBC News (“Dateline” and “Today”), CBS News (“60 Minutes II”), MSNBC, National Public Radio and other news organizations, but he is best known for his coverage of social and political issues on “BET News” and “BET Tonight.”

Mayor Quinton Lucas

In 1996, Gordon was the first journalist to interview former football star O.J. Simpson following his acquittal for the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Not one to shy away from the difficult questions, Gordon opened his interview by asking, “Did you commit those murders?”

In “Conversations in Black,” Gordon asks questions that are pertinent in today’s politically charged climate, such as “Do black lives really matter?” and “Are black people better off after the Obama presidency?”

The book features thought-provoking responses from some of America’s most prominent African-American voices, including  Stacey Abrams, Harry Belafonte, Michael Eric Dyson, Alicia Garza, Jemele Hill, Iyanla VanZant, Eric Holder, Angela Rye, Al Sharpton, TI and Maxine Waters.

KCUR’s Steve Kraske

Special guest Willie Lanier, drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1967, enjoyed an 11-season career as middle linebacker for the Chiefs and played in Super Bowl IV when Kansas City defeated the Minnesota Vikings 23-7. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986. A Virginia native, Lanier lives in a suburb of Richmond.

Quinton Lucas was sworn in as the 55th mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, on Aug. 1, 2019. Born and raised in Kansas City, Lucas has spent most of his life in the city’s urban core. He lives in the 18th and Vine Jazz District, which he previously represented on the City Council. Lucas is also a member of the University of Kansas Law School faculty.