MLK Jr. Day service: Keeping dream alive the ultimate objective

MLK Jr. Day service: Keeping dream alive the ultimate objective

Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 9:04 pm
By: Chris Menees, Staff Reporter

MLK Jr. Day service: Keeping dream alive the ultimate objective | MLK Jr. Day service: Keeping dream alive the ultimate objective
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
From the youngest to the oldest, they gathered to keep Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream alive.
Several generations of adults and youth stood together Monday at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Union City as they paid tribute to the slain civil rights leader and his dream of racial equality.
The noon program — sponsored by the Obion County Ministerial Fellowship — featured entertainment by local youth prior to Elder Harry Barnes’ stirring rendition of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which set the stage for impassioned remarks from speaker Elder Curtis McLendon, president of the fellowship.
McLendon quoted from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 — “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die …” — as he recounted King’s life from his birth Jan. 15, 1929, through his death April 4, 1968, in Memphis.
McLendon said the people of his generation and their elders struggled during those early days of the civil rights movement and he thanked God for the progress which has been made, but he said “the struggle lives on.”
“I wonder what Martin Luther King Jr. would think now,” he asked the crowd that filled the church’s sanctuary.
McLendon, also a member of the Union City School Board, said he was particularly blessed to see so many young people in attendance at Monday’s event and he directed many of his remarks toward them.
He noted an increase in recent years in “black on black” crime, noting they had marched together for the civil rights cause in his generation.
McLendon said today’s generation has the best in schools, textbooks and technology — a vast improvement over previous generations — yet there are more black men in prison than in college. He said children walked to school in his generation, compared with today’s children who have $125 shoes and the convenience of riding school buses, yet some still won’t go to school.
He also made reference to an increase in teen pregnancy — “babies getting babies” — and the rise in the number of households with single parents or no parents at all.
He said there is no respect for one another in today’s generation, compared to young people of his generation who were taught to respect their elders and to say “yes, sir” and “no, sir.”
“Dr. King didn’t die for all of that,” he said.
McLendon continued by saying young men think selling drugs is more important than the harmful effect it has on their community and the many homes being destroyed by drugs. He said some people even think it’s “a badge of honor” to be sent to jail.
He explained that dress codes had to be imple-mented in schools because of young girls “dressing almost naked,” causing a distraction in the learning environment, and he advised young men to “pull up your pants.” He said young people of his generation were taught to tuck in their shirts and they were called slouches if their shoes were untied.
He said it’s sad that Congress had to intervene to stop rappers from using “the N word,” a racial slur, and said young black men have degraded their own race and gotten rich from using the derogatory term.
“What would (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) think if he was here now?” he said.
McLendon told the young people that they have the future and they live in a time when they don’t have to worry about having to go in through a back door or having to sit in the back of the bus like earlier generations.
He closed by emphasizing to the younger generation that they have the future — “and it’s very bright” — as he implored them to apply themselves and told them “the sky is the limit.”
“If Dr. King was alive today, what would he think about us?” McLendon asked.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.18.11

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