King more than a dreamer, speaker says

King more than a dreamer, speaker says
January 18
13:56 2018

As we celebrate the 89th birthday and federal holiday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we should remember the sacrifices he made to get us where we are today, said the keynote speaker at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Prayer Breakfast on Monday, Jan. 15.

The Chronicle and the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity sponsored the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Prayer Breakfast at the Benton Convention Center.

James A. Beaty Jr., senior United States district judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, said he was a freshman at Western Carolina University when he heard the news on April 4, 1968 that King had been fatally shot. “I was stunned,” he said. He said the three emotions he had when he heard the news were confusion, anger and hope.

He asked why would a man of peace undergo a violent death? How could this man be killed? What hope is there in this act?

Beaty used King’s own words to illustrate many of his points.

He presented three things people should do now as they live in the legacy of King.

*Continue to prepare ourselves and our children for the future.

*Continue to fight in the struggle for equality for all.

*Continue to grow in faith and hope for tomorrow.

King was more than a dreamer, Beaty said. “He left so much more than just a dream,” he said.

In his last words to a group of people the night before he died, King said he had been to the mountaintop and knew black people would make it to the Promised Land.

“We should all remember he went through many vallies so he could go to the mountaintop of faith,” Beaty said. And the current generation has vallies, too.

Beaty mentioned his disappointment in seeing the statewide grading system of schools, which reflected poor grades for many Winston-Salem schools that have majority black populations.

“If our children are limited by poor academic environments, they will indeed be judged by the color of their skin and not the content of their character.”

Beaty mentioned that every day now, we are hearing, like a coded message, references to people who want to make America great again, when it wasn’t great for a large population of Americans.

“We are not out of the valley, yet,” he said.

He went on to talk about the black people who have been killed by police and the nine black church goers who were killed at church in Charleston, S.C.

Beaty reminded the audience about King’s words of hope.

King recited in his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 most of a Bible passage, Isaiah 40:4-5, which Beaty recited from the speech:

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

Beaty said the words “assured us that in due season, the truth will be revealed.”

Judge Denise Hartsfield, the mistress of ceremony on Jan. 15 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Prayer Breakfast, presented Beaty with a plaque from The Chronicle.

The breakfast also featured several elected officials, who recognized others in the audience.

The Winston-Salem Branch of the NAACP presented a special award to Victor Johnson, a veteran and a student at Winston-Salem State University in 1960 who helped lead a civil rights protest against a Winston-Salem retail outlet that had segregated lunch counters when students in Greensboro were mounting a similar protest. The Winston-Salem protest led to the students being allowed to eat at the establishment without segregation.

“They sat down first, but we ate first,” said Johnson, who is a longtime member of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools board.

Alvin Carlisle, president of the local NAACP chapter, presented the award to Johnson.

The CEO and president of the Winston-Salem Urban League, James Perry, and the president of the Urban League’s Young Professionals group, April Johnson, talked about what the Urban League is doing, such as releasing the first-ever State of Black Winston-Salem report.

“The need to fight for King’s dream is greater than ever,” Perry said. “We know that we have more work to do.”

The president of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity, Rev. Dr.  Lamonte Williams, gave the charge to the community.

He charged the Winston-Salem community to “apply equity and social justice lenses to all your work,” remember that America was formed with the words “all men are created equal,” speak truth to power, call for “social transformation,” and not to be silent and speak out for equal rights for all human beings. He said to remember, “Love always outlasts hate.”

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Donna Rogers

Donna Rogers

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