Community celebrates MLK’s dream, vision

Published 9:18 am Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Voices of Faith sing “We Shall Overcome” during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration event in Ohio University Southern’s Bowman Auditorium on Jan. 21.


“But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. On Jan. 21, 2013, more than 40 years after his death, he was the keynote speaker at an event held in his honor.

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Ohio University Southern opened its doors to the public so men, women and children of all color and race could come together to remember the key figure of the American civil rights movement.

“I wanted this one to be special — I don’t want to just entertain you. I want you to learn something,” Robert Pleasant, OUS coordinator of diversity and multiculturalism, said. “So instead of having a keynote speaker like we have done in the past, we let Dr. King’s own words be the message.”

Video clips of King’s speeches were intertwined with songs, dances and poetry readings to weave a tapestry of celebration that brought the audience to their feet on multiple occasions.

The Rev. James Stowe Jr., pastor at Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church in Ironton, said it is through people coming together and giving it their all that a community reaches its peak.

“Our world is in need of love. Our world is in need of healing. Our world is in need of peace. — Those are the things Dr. King spoke about so many times in his lifetime,” Stowe said. “When you reflect over the sermons, reflect over the speeches you remember how he always spoke of the beauty of the community, the beauty of beloved community and how everyone is of value to the community.

“I think it is very important for people of this generation to remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Stowe said. “What Dr. King did in brining communities together, people who thought different, people who believed different, people who looked different under the one thing of love is something we should all remember and seek to implement in our society today.”

Stowe said by recognizing the idea of a beloved community and striving to make the idea a reality is how society can leave a proud legacy for future generations. He also said it is an amazing thing the spirit of community was alive in OUS’s Bowman Auditorium on Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but it is something that should not fade when the room goes dark and everyone goes home.

“It’s a spirit that needs to be alive 365 days a year,” Stowe said. “So the question i, ‘where do we go from here?’ How do we implement this from a realistic perspective into our daily lives so we can see the benefit of the community coming together and operating in love. That’s the question we really have to grapple with on a day-to-day basis in order to see the realization of his dream in today’s society.”

And the love constantly mentioned by Stowe and King comes from communities coming together in fellowship to learn and grow said Pleasant. He said it is a positive thing when people come together to celebrate diversity.

“I think Dr. King’s message of love and responsibility plays so much into many of our struggles today,” Pleasant said. “We have to start working and believing in ourselves if we are going to have a broader impact on our community. I think if we are ever going to grow as a community, as a society, we have to understand that all of us have something to offer and we have to embrace that, respect and love each other to move forward together.”

In the spirit of moving forward as a community and honoring the Nobel Peace Prize recipient’s legacy for more than just the designated federal holiday, OUS is hosting multiple events throughout the week designed to celebrate King’s life through discussion, music and breaking bread with neighbors.