gua: 'Remembering Martin'

Kick-off program part of the local King Celebration 2010 — the national celebration begins downtown on Monday at noon

Bishop Rudolph W. McKissick, Jr., center, delivers the keynote speech during the Remembering King 2010 Kick-Off Program at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church on Tuesday, January 12, 2010.

Aaron E. Daye/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 4:22 p.m.

The keynote speaker at an event kicking off King Celebration 2010 urged blacks to exercise their imaginations like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did when he fought for social justice during the height of the civil rights movement.

The speaker, Bishop Dr. Rudolph McKissick Jr., spoke to more than 100 people Tuesday night at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church at the King Celebration 2010 "Remembering Martin" kick-off program, which was sponsored for the 26th time by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc.

The theme for King Celebration 2010 is "Living the Dream, Preserving the Legacy."

McKissisck, the senior pastor of Bethel Baptist Institutional Church in Jacksonville, used scripture from II Kings 7:3 to illustrate how King's imagination allowed him to see beyond the Jim Crow South he was raised in to dream about a day when it would no longer exist.

The title of his speech was "Get Up and Wake Up!" He began by telling a story about an American soldier named Col. George Hall who was a POW in Vietnam, caged in a black box for seven years. He said Hall woke up everyday and imagined he was playing golf. A week after being freed, Hall played in a golf tournament in Louisiana and shot a low score.

"When he was asked how he could shoot such a low score, he told them that he had been imagining playing golf for the last seven years," McKissick said. "That is an example of imagination leading to manifestation."

McKissick said the text describes how four lepers decided to leave the colony where they had been forced to live with hundreds of other lepers, and go to a place where they might have been killed. He said when the four lepers left at twilight from where they were, God made the people who might have harmed them flee at the same time.

He said the four lepers were merely looking for food, but were blessed with not only food, but shelter, clothes and transportation.

"When you get up, God gets moving," McKissick said. "When we decide to get up and change the way we live, change the way we think and change the way we feel, God is going to start moving stuff out of our way."

McKissick described leprosy as being a skin disease, and he said the lepers were forced to live in a specific colony among themselves simply because their skin was different. He said the significance of the four lepers deciding to leave the colony is that they used their imaginations to believe they could live better. He said it was during a time of famine, and he said when the lepers found their blessings of food, clothes, shelter and transportation, they went straight to the king who had treated them bad and shared their blessings with him and his people.

McKissick said blacks need to do the same thing, and let go of bitterness some have toward white people for transgressions that happened in the past.

"The sign of your maturity is when you can help the folk you don't like," he said.

During his hour-long speech that had many standing on their feet and shouting in agreement with him, McKissick also talked about the number of blacks who don't invest in communities that have invested so much in them, black politicians who don't have the black community's best interests at heart, parents who don't value education and how conscious blacks must surround themselves around people who think like them, no matter what color they are.

"Everybody your color ain't your kind, and everybody your kind, ain't your color," McKissick said.

Rev. Dr. N. Lamonte Newsome, the pastor of Mt. Carmel, presided over the event, and Diyonne McGraw, the first vice-president of the King Commission, gave the welcome and occasion, during which she urged people to do all they can to help black students graduate from high school in Alachua County.

"As we kick-off this commemoration celebration we need to be mentoring more of our youth, clothing and feeding the needy and helping others in order to do what we can to preserve the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King," McGraw said. "Living his dream and preserving our legacy is the occasion."

Rev. Adrian Weeks, the chaplain of the King Commission, gave the invocation, and greetings came from Alachua County Commission Chair Cynthia Chestnut and Gainesville City Commission Scherwin Henry.

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