By Tia Lynn Lecorchick (Managing Editor)
The good Dr. King would have turned 85 this month, had his life not been so tragically cut short back in 1968. Although King did not survive to see his notorious dream come to fruition, his legacy lives on, carried by those inspired by the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. and who continue to work ever-so diligently today in order that his dream of freedom, equality and justice becomes a reality.
Community leaders and the Morgan County chapter of the NAACP gathered early Monday morning for the annual community breakfast in honor of Dr. King held at Source of Light Ministries in Madison and later at Springfield Baptist Church to hold a religious service to uphold King’s memory.
At the breakfast, speakers included Laura Butler, president of the Morgan County Chapter of the NAACP, Bill Shade, former director of Source of Light Ministries, and James Woodard, superintendent of Morgan County Schools. Rev. Aaron Carter presided over the church service that evening.
Rev. Carter reminded the audience that it was King’s faith in God the motivated him to continue on in the face of such brutal racism, oppression, and violence.
“The reason he didn’t quit was because he was a king with a King inside of him. He was a king who had a King over him. He didn’t quit because he had a good example he could follow,” said Carter. “I’m glad God called Dr. King and not me to that task.”
According to Bill Shade, former director of Source of Light, people all over the world continue to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day because his legacy continues to inspire “freedom, equality and opportunity.”
“It’s the dream Martin Luther King Jr. had for all of us,” said Shade. “So help us create opportunities for others and we can change lives together.” Woodard, too, spoke at the breakfast about the vital imperative to create opportunities for our community, specifically through education.
Woodard shared about his own challenging upbringing, raised in poverty by parents who never received a decent education.
“At the end of the day, I believe Dr. King was about giving equal opportunity,” said Woodard. “My reflection [on Dr. King] led me to think about opportunities—opportunities that Martin Luther King helped create for others and how I want to follow that example.”
Kendrick Simmons Sr., vice president of the Morgan County Chapter of the NAACP, believes King’s legacy is about helping each other in this world.
“We must create opportunity…pray for opportunity, not just for yourself, but for others. When you create opportunities you can help others,” said Simmons.
Madison Mayor Fred Perriman attended the event to not only celebrate King’s legacy, but to help continue it. “It’s important to keep him alive like this,” said Perriman. “We remember what he did, what he died for, and we have to carry on that legacy.”
Shade urged the crowd to cling to Martin Luther King’s famous words as society still makes its journey to the “promised land.”
“Remember what he said, ‘I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land,’” quoted Shade.