Illuminating Company Line Worker Keeps Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Spirit Alive

Alfred Leak and MLK

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. changed the world by leading the civil rights movement and advocating for social equality. Decades after his death, his messages of equality, love and peace continue to champion a brighter society.

Among those inspired by his legacy is Alfred Leak, a line worker at the Illuminating Company in Cleveland, Ohio.

As a third-generation ordained minister with distant connections to the legendary activist, Leak has always felt that he and Dr. King are kindred spirits. 

“Dr. King and I are both proud products of faith and Historically Black Colleges,” Leak said. “I identify with him in a number of ways.” 

Leak has performed reenactments of Dr. King’s legendary speeches to countless audiences for 25 years, including a performance of Dr. King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech at the Illuminating Company’s third annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration last year.

“I’m flattered to be compared to him but there is only one true Dr. King,” Leak said. “I believe the similarities people observe in our speeches is a result of our shared values and upbringing.”

A Long History of Honoring Dr. King

His tradition of performing Dr. King’s historical speeches began when he was still in college and his mother pushed him to seek volunteering opportunities. Soon after, he received a well-timed note with a request to read an excerpt from one of Dr. King’s famous speeches at his church. His performance was well received and opened a floodgate of requests for more.

“After a while, I read Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech so many times I could recite it from memory and write it with grammatic perfection from the first word to the last,” Leak said.

Eventually, Leak began performing other speeches from the legendary civil rights leader. He has since lent his voice to the City of Cleveland, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and a variety of other community organizations in many states.

Coronavirus Pandemic and Social Justice Key Themes for MLK Day 2022

With the ongoing pandemic and social justice issues plaguing our country, Leak decided to recite an excerpt from Dr. King’s 1961 Lincoln University “The American Dream” commencement address in honor of this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In this address, Dr. King argued that the world is a neighborhood where individual decisions affect the larger community and that, “as long as diseases are man can be totally healthy, even if he just got a clean bill of health from the finest clinic in America.”

A video of Leak performing an excerpt from this speech can be seen below.

Leak hopes his talents will help to further Dr. King’s mission of empowering the community and promote the civil rights values he is known for.

“America is a dream, and there is still much work to be done to bring that dream to fruition,” Leak said. 

To learn more about FirstEnergy’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, visit


MEDIA CONTACT: Joshua Duke, (330) 607-5018

Last Modified: January 16, 2022