To the editor:
On Jan. 21 Lawrence residents from all walks of life gathered for the 17th time in our city to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While the speakers and programs each year have been excellent, this 2002 event was something special. As the program moved from speaker to speaker, and from one excellent musical group to another, in addition to remembering Dr. King and his work (and being reminded that we still have a lot of work to do), I felt a growing sense of intense pride for being a part of such a great community.
We do still have miles to go in the area of racial equality. By no means have we "arrived." But the quality and depth of the words that came from the lips of Hank Booth, Randy Weseman, Leo Barbee, Bill Dulin, Bob Johnson and Barbara Ballard, confirmed in my heart what genuine, loving, strong, caring, knowledgeable and capable men and women we have leading our community! These six speakers in particular not only conveyed an understanding and support of the ongoing battle for all men and women being free and equal in our great country, but their heartfelt love and pride in the city of Lawrence and its people was abundantly evident to all.
However the crown jewel in Dr. King's royal celebrators was Robert Hemenway, chancellor of Kansas University. His vast knowledge of Dr. King, the history of the movement, the "behind-the-scenes" situations that led to the letter from the Birmingham jail and the "I Have A Dream" speech paled in comparison to his understanding of Dr. King's Christian mind-set and his reliance on divine inspiration for his decisions, actions and words. Indeed it was not only a great day in our nation's history, but it was an especially great day to be a Lawrencian!