Blazer publisher to receive 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Medal of Service

November 21, 2017

For more than 10 years now, Alan Wade of Jackson has served as publisher of The Blazer newspaper, highlighting news from Jackson County’s diverse communities and cultures. For his efforts, Wade is the recipient of the 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Service Award.

Today, Wade is the owner and publisher of the Jackson Blazer, a community newspaper that he purchased in 2005.

“Alan Wade is a giant in the Jackson community, and a force for positivity,” said Lee Hampton, director of multicultural affairs. “He always reaches out to and cares about the least among us. He is very inclusive and engages all cultures and segments of Jackson County in his newspaper. He’s been a treasured supporter of Jackson College and our students for the last decade. We’re very proud that Alan was selected as the 2018 Martin Luther King Medal of Service Award winner. His selection was a home run.”

The Blazer started in 1962 by Alan’s brother, Ben Wade, and Charles Cade. Alan worked for a number of years in the newspaper business, selling advertising for the Michigan Publishers Auxiliary for minority publications. While he had worked for newspapers, Wade didn’t have experience as a publisher or journalist, so he was hesitant at first to buy the newspaper. But after some convincing, he did purchase the Blazer, and the rest, he says, is history.

Blazing a Path for Community

“It has been a time of learning and enjoying people, the residents of this great community,” Wade said. “The Blazer was never my dream; my dream is a unified Jackson.” Toward that end, Wade represents all cultures in the Blazer, showing the positive side of living in Jackson.

“The Blazer gave African-Americans a voice in the press, which they didn’t have,” Wade said. “This is not 1963; many things have changed. We (at the Blazer) are not exclusive, we are inclusive. We have stories from the city and county, from Grass Lake to Hanover-Horton to Spring Arbor, to the inner city. That’s something I pride myself in; the Blazer is a reflection of who I am.”

In the community, Wade is a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and its Executive Committee. He supports the Men of Merit at Jackson College, and belongs to the Lily Missionary Baptist Church. His parents, Rev. W.G. and Georgie Wade, founded Lily Baptist. He has four siblings, brothers Matt and Ben, and sisters, Babbie Mason and Benita Dear. He has a 22-year-old son, A.J., who is a Jackson College student, and 32-year-old daughter Danielle.

Progress made
While Jackson today is not the same as the 1960s, Wade admits that there is still work to be done. “Before we can really seek solutions, people’s hearts have to soften and really be dedicated to a common goal. When we get to that point, then we can say we’ve arrived. We’ve made a lot of progress, but we’re not to the point where we can be satisfied. This King Celebration is certainly a step in that direction. It brings us all together and is an enjoyable night for everyone in the community.”

His response when learning about the award? “I’m very honored to have my name included amongst so many deserving citizens in the community. I am overwhelmed.”

About the event

The 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration will be Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Robert Snyder Dining Commons, Potter Center. Tickets are $25 for adults/general admission, and $20 for senior citizens and students. Tickets available by calling the Potter Center Box Office at 517.796.8600.

UPDATE: As of Jan. 10, event is sold out.