By Nick Nunn & Photos by Jesse Walker
“King gave us a permission to dream,” said Rev. David Powers, Pastor of the Madison Presbyterian Church, speaking at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Birthday Celebration Community Breakfast, which was hosted by the Morgan County Branch of the NAACP and Source of Light Ministries, International, last Monday, Jan. 20.
“He called us and gave us permission to dream something new,” continued Powers. “I wonder what that dream is for us.”
Powers discussed Dr. King’s choice of the mountaintop as the “enduring image” of his final speech in Memphis, Tenn., on April 3, 1968. “He could have chosen a valley to describe his viewpoint,” said Powers about the difficulties that both Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement faced at the time.
“You know better than I the struggle Dr. King lead.” Powers encouraged those in attendance to push forward to a “new view from that mountaintop” which will only be attained if they invest in King’s concept of “the drum major instinct” to push progress forward incessantly. “This is a reality that is not yet realized,” said Powers.
“It takes initiative to step out and beat.” “I hope that we will be energized.” Madison Mayor Fred Perriman thanked the citizens of Madison for “keeping the dream alive in this great city.”
“We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,” said Perriman. “When we walk together hand in hand, we can say that we have come too far to turn around.”
Providing a bookend for the holiday, Calvary Baptist Church held the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Religious Program in the evening.
“Our door swings open on welcome hinges,” said Deacon Albert Goudelock, welcoming visitors to Calvary Baptist Church. Morgan County Branch NAACP President Laura Butler thanked those in attendance for coming, and, motioning to Mayor Perriman, said that his tenure as mayor is “one of the dreams Dr. King was working on.” Rev. Roi Johnson, Pastor of the New Springfield Baptist Church in Siloam, gave the main speech during the evening service.
“It’s good to learn that the freedom soldiers of Morgan County continue to be vigilant,” began Rev. Johnson.
“Truth… strikes a resonant chord,” continued Johnson, launching into his sermon. Johnson enumerated the social shifts that have occurred since the beginning of America, including the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Civil Rights movement, and the “wars and rumors of wars” fought during the last century.
“We took baby steps forward,” said Johnson, while acknowledging that “the setbacks were serious.”
Describing the “ebb and flow” of progress during the Civil Rights movement, Johnson reminded the listeners of the great losses that were sustained during the 1960s, including the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the lives lost because of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing on Sept. 15, 1963.
The mortar for the steps of the “moral and ethical edifice” in America, said Johnson has been “moistened with the blood of the martyrs.”
Despite the advances made in Civil Rights, Johnson said that he is still “left to wonder where the people of faith stand today” in their support of just causes. Johnson made an effort to wipe away the “sanitary” version of King’s message, reminding attendees that “most people of color… didn’t want to see him coming to their town.”
“Why does it surprise me,” continued Johnson,” that we’ve got the same thing going right now?” Some people, according to Johnson, have always been willing to come in through the back door and “holler to Moses, ‘Take us back to Egypt!’ There’ve always been those.”
Johnson then criticized elected officials at all levels of government, who still work to make sure that President Obama “does not open up a path of freedom.” “Martin dreamed of a beloved community,” said Johnson.
“This is our calling. This is our challenge. This is our commitment.” “When we do this, our love will be beautiful, mountains will be moveable… the sky will be reachable… our faith will be powerful, our cause will be unstoppable, God’s work will be visible.” “His truth is marching on!”