Archive for Tuesday, January 16, 1996

EFFORTS

January 16, 1996

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The dream that all people should live in harmony was stressed at Monday's formal program honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was remembered Monday in Lawrence as a preacher, a prophet and an agent of change in America.

"We don't mention it often enough that Dr. King was committed to nonviolence," said Bishop George D. McKinney, a San Diego minister who worked with King and was the keynote speaker at Monday's local service honoring the slain civil rights leader.

"I believe that this nation was spared a blood bath," McKinney told about 400 people who gathered at Kansas University's Lied Center for the 11th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance.

The two-hour observance included readings from the Bible, greetings from local dignitaries and prayers offered by several local pastors, including the Ecumenical Fellowship Inc., an organization of Lawrence's nine black churches.

One of the highlights of the observance was the energetic singing of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir, a group of about 90 young people.

McKinney, pastor of St. Stephen's Church of God in Christ in San Diego, said he first met King on June 15, 1960.

King was sent by God at a time when segregation, injustice, war and poverty had reached a point in America when there could have been an "awful holocaust," McKinney said.

"When Rosa Parks refused to remove herself from the seat where she was resting her tired feet and a boycott of that bus system was initiated (Dec. 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Ala.), people of that community rallied to King to be their spokesman, their leader," McKinney said.

King's nonviolent approach -- patterned after Mahatma Gandhi's nonviolent demonstrations in India -- brought peace to the civil rights movement, McKinney said.

However, King, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, endured violence many times, McKinney said. King was jailed 39 times, his home was bombed twice, he was stabbed in Harlem and beaten in Selma and Montgomery, Ala.

"He was given the kind of treatment that no human being could endure without striking back," McKinney said. But King counseled those who worked with him to remain nonviolent. He was gunned down by an assassin on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.

King had a genius for articulating what everyone was thinking at the time, putting a profound message in simple terms, McKinney said.

His speeches always included the exposure of evil, and called people into action and to a "suffering love," McKinney said.

It is important to remember King's philosophy and sacrifices, McKinney said.

"His dream is not yet fulfilled. There is still some unfinished business," McKinney said. "Poverty abounds. Unequal justice is still being meted out. A disproportionate number of those who are defenseless and poor are being railroaded into jail."

He also said there "is a resurgence of racism that must be dealt with now."

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