Cel­e­brate King’s legacy through ser­vice

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

“I have a dream that one day this na­tion will rise up and live out the true mean­ing of its creed: ‘We hold th­ese truths to be self-ev­i­dent, that all men are cre­ated equal.’”

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke those words at the Lin­coln Me­mo­rial in Au­gust 1963, as Amer­ica was tossed in a tem­pest of racial un­rest.

On Mon­day, we’ll mark King’s life and legacy with a na­tional hol­i­day. It’s now been 31 years since the birth­day of this iconic fig­ure in the civil rights move­ment was des­ig­nated as such by Congress.

Some­times in the years since his death, peo­ple ask a ques­tion that’s in­trigu­ing, but im­pos­si­ble to an­swer. “If Martin Luther King were alive to­day, what would he think of …?”

Cer­tainly, if King had not been cut down by an assassin’s bul­let in Mem- phis al­most 49 years ago, and if he had lived to see his 88th birth­day, he would have borne wit­ness to all that the rest of Amer­ica has seen. Most re­cently, he would have seen an Amer­ica where an African-Amer­i­can man is com­ing to the fin­ish line of the sec­ond term of his pres­i­dency. He would have seen an Amer­ica that is os­ten­si­bly de­seg­re­gated, but in fact has many gaps that per­sist be­tween its black cit­i­zens and its white cit­i­zens.

He would have seen th­ese things and more. What ex­actly he would have thought of all of them, and by word and deed in­flu­enced our per­cep­tion of them, is pure spec­u­la­tion.

What can we do to ap­pro­pri­ately mark the hol­i­day? Here in Charles County, we have a cou­ple choices.

One is the 22nd an­nual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Break- fast on Mon­day, Jan. 16, at North Point High School. The break­fast, spon­sored by the Charles County chap­ter of the NAACP and other part­ner or­ga­ni­za­tions, will be­gin at 8:30 a.m., and costs $30. The pro­gram will be­gin at 9 a.m., fea­tur­ing a key­note ad­dress by Lisa M. Weah with the New Beth­le­hem Bap­tist Church of Bal­ti­more. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Jehnell Link­ins with the South­ern Mary­land Chain Chap­ter of the Links Inc. at linkjehnell@aol.com, or 443-694-9595.

Also in the morn­ing, the Ac­co­keek Foun­da­tion at Pis­cat­away Park will join vol­un­teers to help re­store the his­toric to­bacco barn and Lau­rel Branch farm­house from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vol­un­teers will help replace clap­board­ing and paint “witches brew” weath­er­proof­ing so­lu­tion on the orig­i­nal 18th cen­tury build­ings. Work will be out­side, and may be messy, so please plan ac­cord­ingly. The foun­da­tion is specif­i­cally search­ing for a group of up to 20. Ide­ally, vol­un­teers will be at least 18 years of age. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Casey at clowe@ac­co­keek.org, or call 301-965-9574.

In a ser­mon in At­lanta only a few weeks be­fore his as­sas­si­na­tion, King spoke about ser­vice to oth­ers.

“Ev­ery­body can be great, be­cause ev­ery­body can serve,” he told the con­gre­ga­tion. “You don’t have to have a col­lege de­gree to serve. You don’t have to make your sub­ject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aris­to­tle to serve. You don’t have to know Ein­stein’s the­ory of rel­a­tiv­ity to serve. You don’t have to know the sec­ond the­ory of ther­mo­dy­nam­ics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul gen­er­ated by love. And you can be that ser­vant.”

We can make his mes­sage en­dure on Mon­day, and all year long.

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