Lake, 50, who holds a doctorate degree and is an associate professor in the English department at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, said he is honored to participate in the event and is looking forward to giving back to the community he grew up in.
Lake said as a child in the '70s in Fort Wayne, he never demonstrated in the civil rights movement. But King's legacy was all around him, through uncles and cousins who did participate and lived through the '60s. Their experiences and the grounding of growing up in the Baptist church, similar to King's in philosophy, were all influences that helped him to become the person he is today.
“I was able to eavesdrop on the civil rights generation, in the sense that it was a part of the culture, the music, black power, (as in love of the black culture). Some of it soaked into me and my ethnic-identity formation, but I was too young to march in the streets and too far away to be in the movement,” Lake said.
Lake, the third child of six, grew up in a single-parent home in the Memorial Park neighborhood. His mother was from the South, so Lake and his brothers and sisters were the first generation in the North.
His elementary school was predominantly black, and it wasn't until Lake was bused to middle school that he began to realize his economic bracket was not the same as many people who lived in Fort Wayne. The 30-minute bus ride, to what is now Blackhawk Middle School, took him through neighborhoods he had never realized existed.
“My community was a pretty much a black ethnic community,” Lake said
A graduate of Snider High School in 1981, Lake said he found school a place of self-affirmation filled with a community of adults and mentors who supported him.
“School was not a hostile environment for me; it was a place where I was able to find some success,” Lake said.
Lake said he plans to discuss the values and principles that Martin Luther King Jr. espoused and see how they relate to some of issues we face today. Lake has published many books including “The Laboratory Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Using some of the philosophies in that book, Lake will discuss King's relevance to democratic theory, the project of democracy and how it relates to the 21st century, with a focus on asking if democracy will survive as a viable form of government for developing countries.