Volume XI, Issue 4 ~ January 23-29, 2003

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Bay Reflections

Carrying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream Forward
by Martha Blume

On the 74th anniversary of the birth of civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., January 15, President George W. Bush came out against one of King’s legacies. The administration filed a brief in a Supreme Court case considering the constitutionality of a program of racial preferences at the University of Michigan. The decision could reshape affirmative action programs nationwide.

But the morning of the offical Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, January 20, resounded with hope as some 70 countries celebrated their intention of moving King’s dream forward through a new generation.

Hundreds celebrated in Chesapeake Country, with a thousand gathering in Anne Arundel County and 300 in Calvert County.

At the 22nd annual memorial breakfast at Anne Arundel Community College, Yolanda King, eldest daughter of the assassinated leader, shared first-hand memories and inspiration.

Of King as a father, his daughter spoke intimately. “He was a buddy daddy, he played with us,” she said. “My memories are full of lots of love and laughter.”

Of King as a leader, she spoke passionately, applying to our time his warning that “The bombs we dropped on others will explode on our own country.”

By action, speeches and marches throughout the 1960s, King led two great forces into the American mainstream: the equality of all races and peaceful resistance as a strategy for change. For those contributions, he was honored with the Nobel Prize in 1964. King lost his life to an assassin’s bullet in 1968, but the changes he provoked live on.

Noting how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. changed American life in everyday ways won a first prize this day for Glen Burnie High Schooler Theresa Montano, who wrote that King was not only devoted to civil rights but to economic freedom. “Asians, Latinos, African Americans and women were able to obtain jobs and purchase property regardless of race, gender or religion. We owe these to Martin Luther King Jr.,” Montano said, reading her essay to a thousand listeners.

This is the 21st year of Annapolis Links Inc. Writing Contest, a partnership with the Anne Arundel County Public School system. QiVon Annan, Marley Middle School, and Dondre L. Phillips, Hilltop Elementary, also took first prizes this year.

For Montano and the nine young writers awarded honors in the Annapolis contest, King had a special message: “Keep up the good work.”

For, King said, the most important thing she learned from her parents is that the individual can make a difference and, working in community with others, can move mountains.

“I am a 100 percent dyed-in-the-wool, card-carrying believer of The Dream, capital T, capital D,” she said. “It’s a dream about freedom from poverty, exploitation, injustice, where every child will have the opportunity to be the best they can be.”

King spoke of the faith that molded her life, of her parents’ convictions and about how personal choice stirs every aspect of her life. “I choose to believe, and that choice gives way to every other choice I make,” she said.

Calling also on the memory of Rosa Parks, who “chose to stand up by remaining seated,” King said the civil rights movement in this country raised the consciousness of the entire world.



Copyright 2003 Bay Weekly
Last updated January 23, 2003 @ 3:13am