The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. worked not only for blacks but for all Americans and prepared the country for the future, a minister who worked with King during the 1960s civil rights movement said during a celebration Saturday evening.
The Rev. C.T. Vivian, Chicago, said all Americans are better off because of King, who was assassinated in 1968. Cities across the nation are celebrating King's contributions to the United States this weekend. The official holiday marking King's legacy is Monday.
A consultant to King, Vivian said the slain civil rights leader is at the "center of every movement" in the world.
"Martin freed so many people," Vivian said at the Seventh Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet Celebration in the Kansas Union at Kansas University. "He freed black people from oppression, but he freed white people from hate, false assumptions and myth."
ALTHOUGH MUCH progress has been made, Vivian said King's dream still has not been realized. When a "fascist and racist" such as Louisiana state Sen. David Duke gets as far as he has, there is still a lot of work remaining, Vivian said.
People must work together to fulfill King's dream, Vivian said, adding that the United States could lose its international power if Americans can't learn to work side by side.
Progress must be made non-violently, said Vivian, who participated in many of the demonstrations and marches King led throughout the nation.
King set an example today's leaders should live by, Vivian said.
"Martin gave moral leadership to the world in which we live," he said.
Calling King "mystical," Vivian said the prominent civil rights leader "gave us new faith in our faith." He said the most mystical thing about King was that "he loved us, he loved us."
"HE DIDN'T have to love anybody," Vivian said. "Martin didn't have to die for anybody."
Other speakers at the banquet, put on primarily by Ecumenical Ministers Fellowship Inc., echoed Vivian. Darren Fulcher, a Kansas University senior who was ousted last semester as student body president, called on his favorite quote from King, saying that "true peace is not merely absence of tension but the presence of justice."
Jacob Gordon, an associate professor of African and African-American studies at KU, said "it is not enough to have civil rights" when education is inadequate, when there are more African-American men in prison than in college, when there are people going hungry and when there are homeless "in the midst of plenty."
THE LOCAL King celebration continues today with a gospel musical at 6 p.m. at Lawrence High School.
Daisy Belle Thomas-Quinney, a dramatist and educator, will give presentations on civil war-era preacher and abolitionist Sojourner Truth at 10 a.m. Monday at Kennedy School, and at 9:50 a.m. and 1:05 p.m. Tuesday at West Junior High School.
A public performance will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Liberty Hall, 642 Mass.
The Rev. Frederick G. Sampson of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit will officiate a Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative service at noon Monday at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.