Jacksonville leaders gathered at Hamilton’s this morning to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message of unity on what would have been the celebration of his 91st birthday. Mayor Andy Ezard announced back in December that Tiffany Williams-Mathis would deliver the keynote address. Mathis is the daughter of former Ward 2 alderman Tony Williams and is a graduate of Jacksonville High School.
Mathis said that her family as well as teachers and the administration paved the way for her to become a member of the Springfield District 186 school board and the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Illinois. “Growing up in Jacksonville taught me the value of hard work. I had to work hard because so many people in the community knew or grew up with my family members and would definitely let them know if I wasn’t on task. With that level accountability and the expectations of my family, I knew I could not fail. Today, because of that support, I stand before you as the executive director and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Illinois. I am a product, a result, of a community that got it right. I am the outcome of your intentionality, stewardship, love, and support.”
Mathis said that the city’s unified mission of community carries on the message that Dr. King began over six decades ago. “Even though our skin tones may vary throughout the City of Jacksonville, my skin tone did not render me any less than or unworthy to any of you. When you looked at me, you saw my dad, my grandparents, and your support of me was merely an extension of the long legacy of community and friendships that were fostered long before I ever existed. Jacksonville, thank you for all that you have done to uplift and support me and the entire community. Our differences are what make us unique, but the love we share for this city is what unifies us. On this MLK Jr. Day, I want to remind you of his words when he said: ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?’ Please continue to be the Jacksonville that I love. Please continue to be the Jacksonville that grew me, and I will continue to flourish. Everyone in the community will continue to flourish.”
Mathis was also invited to sing, and performed “I Know Where I’ve Been” from the musical Hairspray to bookend the breakfast.