In a wide-ranging speech commemorating the unfulfilled dreams of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a Detroit minister said Monday that people must work together for change while meeting the challenge of discovering themselves.
The remarks of the Rev. Frederick G. Sampson came in an address to a jam-packed Ninth Street Missionary Baptist Church crowd of approximately 230 people. His speech concluded three days of local observances of the 62nd birthday of the slain civil rights leader.
Sampson called on his varied background of theology, medicine and history to inspire and entertain the gathering. His one-hour, 15-minute speech was punctuated numerous times with applause and laughter by the approving crowd.
"We've been sick too long to try to get well tomorrow morning," he said, drawing an analogy between the damage inflicted to the body by a sore toe that went unchecked by the brain to a society that has long ignored injustice.
FOR CHANGES to occur, Sampson invoked the words of King, who said that the measure of a person is "not how you stand in comfort and convenience but how you stand in controversy and challenge." Sampson challenged the crowd to take action to follow King's words.
"Number one, we've got to have commitment to confront," he said. "We need the courage to change. We need the confidence to continue."
To accomplish this challenge, Sampson said, people of all races must work together. But a person must know himself to work together effectively, he said.
"You've got to discover who you are, discipline your mind and dedicate yourself to your destiny," he said. "To win is always to overcome someone else. But a triumph is to win over one's self."
Concerning the war in the Persian Gulf, Sampson said he would not march against it, "but I'm going to stand up." He decried that 40 percent of the U.S. military force deployed in the gulf were "people of color" and the high cost in dollars that the effort has consumed.
"OUR UNBORN children are going to pay for this war," Sampson said.
Clergymen from the Ecumenical Fellowship, which sponsored the event, addressed the gathering before and after Sampson's speech. The Rev. Bernie Norwood said that one of the purposes of the celebration was to praise the memory of King because "like every person oppressed, (he) dreamed of freedom from that oppression." The dream was a simple one, he said, that of "brotherly love."
Other program events included Lawrence Mayor Shirley Martin-Smith presenting Sampson with a key to the city, and the church choir singing the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Lift Every Voice and Sing," and "We Shall Overcome," which was sung by the entire gathering at the conclusion of the program.