King celebration speaker calls for 'divine mandate'
Monday's local Martin Luther King Jr. holiday observance was highlighted by inspirational messages and song.
His voice booming with emotion through Kansas University's Lied Center, the Rev. Harold Carter called Monday for a renewed sense of spirituality to keep Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of civil rights alive.
"We need a divine mandate for the new millennium," Carter said at the local Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance. "We need a divine vision, because people never do great things without a divine vision."
Carter, pastor of New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., was the keynote speaker at the event, which drew hundreds of people, filling most of the floor seating area at the Lied Center.
Speakers at the event included Douglas County District Judge Jean Shepherd, City Commissioner Erv Hodges, Douglas County Commissioner Mark Buhler, state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, and Mary Loveland, Lawrence's school board president.
The event, organized by the Ecumenical Fellowship, featured prayers and scripture readings by several Lawrence ministers and selections by the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir and by the Lawrence Children's Choir. It also included a Native American rendition of the Lord's Prayer in sign language by Robert Gumbi of Haskell Indian Nations University.
Carter's main message was that just as King articulated his civil rights message through the pulpit, that message can be revived today through prayer and song.
King, who was assassinated in 1968, knew that during 400 years of suffering through slavery and second-class citizenship, blacks turned to prayer for hope.
King used that foundation of prayer and song to solidify the civil rights movement, Carter said.
But since that time, "there is risen up a tide that seeks to destroy it," he said.
Major cities are still segregated, he said. The rise in the stock market has failed to penetrate the inner cities, he said.
Conservative voices have risen up on the radio and over the Internet to try to undo the progress that blacks have made under affirmative action, he said.
"We have a conservative tide that has put a lot of evil in American life," he said.
What conservatives forget is that starting lines are different for different people and that "some started with 400 years of baggage on their backs," Carter said.
In the Old Testament, Abraham and Moses didn't act until they had divine motivation, he said. And turning back to God is what will help renew the civil rights movement, he said.
"In order to have a divine mandate for the new millennium, we must not lose our song," he said. "I was there, in the civil rights movement, and being there, I knew the power of a song."
-- Dave Toplikar's phone message number is 832-7151. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.