Chapel event kicks off 'King Week 2005'

Published: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 11:41 p.m.
The wooden pews at Gainesville's Passage Family Church vibrated Tuesday night.
The chimes of the tambourine, the dozens of visitors who stomped their feet and clapped their hands, the performers who sang and those who belted out "amens" sent reverberations throughout the chapel, at 2020 NE 15th Ave.
The song and dance celebration, the poems and passages read, were all part of the kickoff for "King Week 2005," commemorating the life and ideals of Martin Luther King Jr.
Members of area government, religious leaders, school children and families attended and reflected on the meaning of King's teachings.
"To me it will take all of us," Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan said about the struggle for justice and equality. "It will take forever."
Hanrahan said the evening was particularly poignant because of the men and women in the armed services who were "serving in many capacities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and helping Asian victims of tsunamis."
Others addressed specific problems in the community.
"I am of the opinion we've come a long way, but we've got a long way to go," said the Rev. Thomas A. Wright, a minister at Mount Carmel Baptist Church.
Wright said while a number of African-Americans hold political and business positions today that they couldn't have held in the past, he felt the deterioration of the family was a pressing issue in African-American communities around the country. Wright noted the high rate of fatherless homes among African-Americans and the high rates of incarceration.
"We have our work cut out for us," he said.
County Commissioner Rodney Long said he felt social equity and economic justice should be the focus of the modern civil rights struggle.
Long said programs such as a workshop for ex-felons on how to restore their civil rights and another program giving endowment scholarships to Santa Fe Community College students are some of the positive efforts in Gainesville that would help African-Americans and other minority groups.
"If we can empower peoples' lives, some of the different types of hidden racisms will go away," Long said.

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