To pay tribute to Dr. King: Just 'keep on keeping on'


Published: Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 1:49 p.m.
Once again, another national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is upon us. On Monday, Jan. 16, people all over the nation will again pause and reflect on Dr. King, whose life was cut short by a bullet, and his legacy, which has endured since that fateful day on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.
Many in Gainesville and other cities across Florida will also pause and reflect, and Monday's observance in Gainesville will cap a week-long series of events and programs that have been sponsored or co-sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida since its inception in 1984.
As a member of the board of directors of the King Commission, I have been extremely proud and honored to serve as such at several times since 1993.
This year ends my final time on the commission, as well as my official tenure as president of the Alachua County Ministerial Alliance, and I leave both organizations with pride in the work that God allowed me to accomplish.
I leave to give greater focus on my duties at my home church, Bartley Temple United Methodist, the work of M.L. Griner Ministries, and, of course, my never-ending personal community involvement and activism. I do plan to continue to be both visible and vocal.
Now to my own reflections on ''King Week'' and beyond. I make it clear now that I am speaking solely for myself, and not speaking for the entire commission.
As I reflect, I first believe that if Dr. King were still with us today, he would be honored by the many tributes and accolades, just as he felt honored by the countless awards he received during his too-brief 13 years on the national scene. However, he would be more honored by the bold actions of people still victimized by the bully called racism.
King would be more honored by us turning away from being complacent and unconcerned about injustices that happen right in front of us. He would be honored by the unwavering and unconditional conviction by those of us who refuse to stand by while the steamroller of hate and malice rolls over us with a relentless lack of mercy and restraint.
King would want us to do all we can to improve our own lot in life and not wallow in self-pity, blame others for our own mistakes, and wait on others to come to our rescue.
During ''King Week'' and beyond, we must remind ourselves that King left for us a "dream blueprint" for us to build upon and make justice a reality. I have witnessed first-hand the hard work of the King Commission for the past 21 years in reminding us of what is still at stake, and while my pride overflows at being a part of this great organization, I must now share these final thoughts.
Commemorative marches and speeches are all fine and should take place. Banquets are appropriate for the sake of fellowship, good food and the "call to arms" by the banquet keynote speaker.
Scholarships, certificates and other awards given to our bright young "keepers of the dream," as well as our local pioneers in civil rights being recognized, are all excellent elements of King Week, and I have enjoyed seeing those persons being so recognized at the annual Hall of Fame banquet.
Still, as I applaud all of the work of the King Commission, we must be ever mindful that we have been given a special mandate to transfer "from thin paper to thick action," as King stated in one of his last speeches, our courage and determination to take the "dream blueprint" given to us on Aug. 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Never let any portion of the dream fade away and die. Simply put, as also put by King, we have to "keep on keeping on."
As a minister, I firmly believe that if all of us do our respective parts here on earth, and promote peace, love, unity and justice, and not just during "King Week," then God above will do his part and bless our sincere efforts.
"King Week" is just one week. Our work must be daily and non-stop until our own time on this earth comes to an end.
The Rev. Milford Lewis Griner of Gainesville is founder of M.L. Griner Ministries.

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