By Tia Lynn Ivey
People all across the country celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday, in honor of what would have been his 88th birthday.
In Morgan County, the local NAACP, churches, city and county leaders, and community members gathered to remember Dr. King’s infamous dream of equality and justice and to encourage others to continue working to make his dream a reality.
Source of Light Ministries in Madison held the annual Martin Luther King Breakfast on Monday morning and Indian Creek Baptist Church held a religious program for the occasion on Monday evening. Dr. Charles Smith, pastor of Madison Baptist Church, was the keynote speaker at the breakfast, and retired Reverend Alfred Murray was the keynote speaker at the religious service.
Murray, who served as pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Newborn for nearly 34 years, was delighted to speak about Dr. King’s legacy at Monday evening’s religious program.
“I thought it was an excellent service,” said Murray. “When I reflect on Dr. King and his life and the efforts that he put forth to correct the wrong that existed in America, you know my praises for him are of the highest. The things that he pushed for helped to make a difference in the lives of all people in America and truly, in the world.”
Murray implored his audience to learn from Dr. King’s legacy.
“From the work that he did, we should learn that we should never give up, for the battle is still not won yet. We have to be working in that direction to accomplish the things he stood for and that will go on throughout our lifetime,” said Murray, noting that Dr. King sought to remedy not only racial injustice but economic injustice.
“Even though a lot of progress has been made there is still much work to be done,” explained Murray. “The work that he did when he was alive, those same concerns are still present today—the concerns for equality and justice, that everybody has a fair chance of voting, opportunity for good jobs, equal pay, and so on. Those were all concerns of his and even though he has been gone for 50 years, some of those same concerns are still with us.”
Smith, who was voted in as pastor of Madison Baptist five years ago, is originally from College Park in Atlanta and spent over 17 years pastoring two congregations in Virginia before moving to Morgan County.
Smith implored the audience to carry on Dr. King’s vision, while tying in the lessons learned in the recent smash-hit film, Hidden Figures, tells the story of three African-American women, Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson, who helped send the first Americans into space. Smith believes this story shows how all people need to be treated equally and justly so that all people can work together to achieve societal progress.
“The movie encourages us to keep our eyes open for the hidden figures, literally and figuratively, from yesterday to today. We can look beyond the now to the way things could be, and frankly, to see the way things should be,” said Smith. “I am a student of history, and the reason is that what happened in the past affects what happens today, and what happens today affects what happens tomorrow. We can better appreciate where we are if we consider where we were.”
Smith regards Dr. King as a personal hero who derived the core of his message from the teaching of Jesus.
“Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Baptist minister interested in treating people fairly and with dignity. He faced tremendous opposition, and against inordinate odds, he persevered with his message of non-violence and equality,” said Smith. “He championed the idea that individuals should be viewed uniquely without prejudging due to externals. He had a dream to live in unity in the United States of America. While many advances have been made, unfortunately, Dr. King’s dream has yet to come to full fruition. Dr. King didn’t stand for elevation of one group over another; he didn’t march so that some might receive selective treatment; his life work was so that all could receive equal treatment.”
Smith urged the audience to keep on living the dream by looking for ways to care for each other and collaborate together to create a better world.
“Deep within our country’s DNA remains the ability to cooperate for good; to work together; to overcome obstacles; to offer care to those who need it. May we all follow the words of Dr. King from his iconic speech on August 28, 1963, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Dr. King also said, ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is “What are you doing for others?’ On this National Holiday to honor this great American, what we say and what we do will answer that question.”
Laura Butler, president of the Morgan County Branch of the NAACP, was pleased with each of the celebrations honoring Martin Luther King.
“It was wonderful. Dr. King led the way for minority peoples to have the same opportunities that everybody has. He believed that all brothers and sisters need to come together hand and hand. One day we hope that all our little children will be seen as they are in the eyes of God, as one people,” said Butler. “Just as Martin Luther King wanted.”