Rev. King’s dream con­tin­ues to res­onate

Charles NAACP hosts an­nual break­fast hon­or­ing civil rights leader

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is cel­e­brated on the third Mon­day of each year. And ev­ery year, the Charles County NAACP branch hosts a break­fast open to all cit­i­zens to cel- ebrate the le­gacy of one of the most prom­i­nent faces of the civil rights move­ment.

Dur­ing Mon­day’s break­fast, guest speak­ers and leg­is­la­tors re­flected on King’s le­gacy and what it means for peo­ple to­day. Many pon­dered what King would think about the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate and how he would han­dle many of the is­sues the coun­try is fac­ing.

Cit­i­zens had dif­fer­ent an­swers, but ev­ery­one had one thing in com­mon: No mat­ter what po­lit­i­cal, re­li­gious or so­cial af­fil­i­a­tion an in­di­vid­ual came from, they still re­spected what King did for the coun­try.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) said King should be “rec­og­nized as a found­ing fa­ther” around the coun­try.

“He wasn’t the same gen­er­a­tion, but each of us can be found­ing fa­thers in keep­ing his dream alive,” Hoyer said.

In Hoyer’s opin­ion, King would want peo­ple to re­new their faith in the coun­try de­spite the sur­round­ing divi­sion left over from the rhetoric of the lat­est elec­tion cy­cle.

Del. Edith Pat­ter­son (D-Charles), chair­woman of the Charles County Del­e­ga­tion, said peo­ple must put aside their dif­fer­ences and honor King’s le­gacy. And do­ing that means com­ing to­gether and heed­ing the call to “help oth­ers.”

“In mem­ory and honor of Dr. King, each day calls for Amer­i­can cit­i­zens from all com­mu­ni­ties to work to­gether to pro­vide an­swers to our most ur­gent state and na­tional is­sues,” she said.

After all, it was just 60 years ago, she said, when King led marches and ad­vo­cated for civil rights. The need for that has not changed much, she said.

Lisa Weah, the senior pas­tor at New Beth­le­hem Bap­tist Chruch in Bal-

tim­ore, said more of­ten, day after day, things grow worse and worse. The times and tragedies of to­day of­ten re­mind her of sto­ries of Baby­lon from the Bi­ble.

Things like leg­is­la­tors at- tempt­ing to “dis­man­tle” a com­mon cit­i­zen’s right to vote, po­lice of­fi­cers hurt­ing the con­stituents they are sup­posed to be pro­tect­ing, gang vi­o­lence, drug abuse and many other is­sues are what lead her back to scriptures in­volv­ing Baby­lon.

She called many com­muni- ties across the coun­try “frac- tured” and talked about the divi­sion among Amer­i­cans. When think­ing about how to fix things, she said, “I like to think to my­self, what would Dr. King have to say?”

There will soon need to be a so­lu­tion, Weah said, es­pe­cial- ly for African-Amer­i­cans, be­cause one of the only peo­ple in power who can con­nect with the black ex­pe­ri­ence, Presi- dent Barack Obama, is leav­ing of­fice at the end of the week.

There has to be some­thing that will res­onate across the black com­mu­ni­ties that King fought for and, even­tu­ally, was killed for, she said.

Juwan Blocker, a senior at Park­dale High School in Prince Ge­orge’s County and a stu­dent board mem­ber of the Prince Ge­orge’s County School Board, said ev­ery­one’s perspective mat­ters, but the facts are that there are mi­nori- ties around the coun­try “who are not be­ing heard,” he said.

“It’s ev­i­dent in this so­ci­ety that all lives mat­ter to ev­ery- one, but we have mi­nor­ity groups who are still be­ing over­looked,” he said.

That’s part of the prob­lem that needs to be cor­rected and part of what Weah says is the so­lu­tion to is­sues, not only in the coun­try, but around the globe. When peo­ple are able to look at each other as fam­ily and take care of one an­other, she said, so­ci­ety will be able to move for­ward and be more uni­fied.

If King were alive to­day, she said, he would say “don’t kill my dream.” He would con­tinue his fight for equal­ity while ask­ing peo­ple to come to­gether and search for un­der­stand­ing in one an­other.

“Dark­ness can­not drive out dark­ness. Hate can­not drive out hate,” she said, quot­ing King. “Only love can do that.”

Jan­ice Wil­son, the head of the Charles County NAACP branch, said King had a dream and ev­ery­one has dreams, but it is time for ev­ery­one around the coun­try to “wake up.”

Part of mak­ing King’s dream a re­al­ity is deal­ing with the is­sues at hand, which in­clude the state of di­vi­sive­ness around the coun­try.

“We have to work to tear down any fences that di­vide us, that keep us out,” Wil­son said. “How we treat oth­ers is the most im­por­tant work we can do.”

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL SYKES II

Juwan Blocker, a senior at Park­dale High School and the stu­dent board mem­ber on the Prince Ge­orge’s County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, de­liv­ers a poem on black life to the crowd at the NAACP’s Martin Luther King, Jr. break­fast on Mon­day.

Bal­ti­more pas­tor Lisa Weah ad­dresses the au­di­ence at the Charles County NAACP branch’s an­nual Martin Luther King, Jr. break­fast on Mon­day dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion of King’s birth­day.

Jan­ice Wil­son, pres­i­dent of the Charles County Branch of the NAACP, ad­dresses the au­di­ence to close out the NAACP’s break­fast com­mem­o­rat­ing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Mon­day.

North Point High School stu­dents, staff and Ju­nior ROTC par­tic­i­pants are called to line up for recog­ni­tion by Charles County State’s At­tor­ney Tony Cov­ing­ton be­fore the rest of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. break­fast is con­tin­ued.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY MICHAEL SYKES II

State Del. C.T. Wil­son sits among the au­di­ence with his daugh­ter as Rep. Steny Hoyer ad­dresses at­ten­dees on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s le­gacy.

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