Michigan Honors Marvin Gaye: Wednesday Designated As 'What's Going On' Day

The State of Michigan is saluting an ageless homegrown classic and legend.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in tandem with the Motown Museum, is recognizing Wednesday (January 20) as “What’s Going On” Day — on the 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s groundbreaking single.

The museum said the designation is kickoff to a year of commemorative activities tied to the album of the same name, which was released four months after the single as Gaye embraced ambitious new sounds and a socially conscious direction.

A “special tribute” document signed by Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist calls “What’s Going On” an influential piece of soul music that inspired other artists to convey “their own feelings, concerns and messages.”

In a statement, Whitmer said “What’s Going On” is an enduring piece of work that still has the power to unify.

“Having this tribute on the calendar provides us with an important moment — one where we can come together as a unified state to pause, reflect and appreciate the need for ideas, perspective, love and understanding. These are values that mean more today than ever before,” Whitmer said. “Through the recognition of ‘What’s Going On’ Day, we hope to bring awareness to Marvin Gaye’s profound words as his timeless music remains in our hearts and minds and continues inspiring generations to come.”

The Motown Museum is asking the public to chime in on the legacy of “What’s Going On” via its social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). More events are planned in coming months, and “What’s Going On” will be a theme in the museum’s upcoming “Motown Mic” spoken-word and “Amplify” singing competitions.

“As we come out of a very challenging year, it’s more important than ever to reflect on Marvin Gaye’s prolific and timeless lyrics to inspire a spirit of connection in 2021,” Robin Terry, Motown Museum CEO and chairwoman, said in a statement. ‘What’s Going On’ Day will serve as a reminder of his impact and legacy — bringing awareness to the issues of today, encouraging active dialogue between groups and individuals and acknowledging the important role Motown music continues to play in uniting us all.”

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