Reflecting on ‘Dream'
Banquet speaker Marc Morial takes audience back in time
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 2:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 2:35 p.m.
Do not be complacent just because you have attained the American dream of wealth and celebrity. Instead, reflect on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and do your part in the fight for economic justice and to resist a culture of violence.
That was a message delivered by Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League Inc., at the 28th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Hall of Fame Banquet Sunday night to more than 280 people at the Best Western Gateway Grand Hotel.
The banquet, hosted by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc., inducted Louis Kalivoda, charter member of the King Commission, into the hall of fame, and awarded the $7,500 Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Award to Jenna Stafford, a senior at Eastside High School.
Nataleh Howard, a senior at Gainesville High School, received the $1,500 Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Scholarship Runner-Up award.
Morial spoke to the theme of this year's King Celebration — "I Have a Dream: The Speech — 50 Years Later" — by taking the audience on a voyage in a time machine to the year 1963.
Morial's time machine was jammed packed with famous, wealthy and powerful people, such as Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, Warren Buffet, Nancy Pelosi, and even President Barack Obama.
The audience traveled to the Birmingham demonstration in the spring when police dogs and firehoses were used against nonviolent men, women and children, and where King wrote his famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."
Morial then took the audience to Washington, D.C., in June 1963 for a meeting where King and civil rights activist Philip Randolph asked President John F. Kennedy to introduce comprehensive civil rights legislation, which was enacted in July 2, 1964 and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The audience also traveled to Mississippi, where civil rights activist Medgar Evers was shot on the front porch of his home. Then, it was back to Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963, for the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom," where 250,000 residents showed up to hear King deliver his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
Morial wondered what King would say about America in 2013.
"In many ways, he would be proud," Morial said. "We have many accomplishments to be proud of and if we do not affirm this, we dishonor sacrifices made." Morial said King would speak about economic justice.
"To those who have the most in this nation, King would say: ‘You have an obligation to think about the rest. You have a solemn duty to think about those who have not,'" Morial said. "Your success is based on tremendous human sacrifice."
Morial said King would be disappointed in a nation that embraces a culture of violence as demonstrated in mass killings, homicides, suicides, movies, cartoons and video games. "This is a nation that embraces a culture of violence and where some say you can cure violence with a little more violence," said Morial, adding that King would speak against spending more money in prisons and jails than in education.
"King would say: ‘Get your priorities in order and hang your politics on a rusty nail and do what's right,'" said Morial, adding that people need to understand the context of 1963.
"King had a dream for the children of America: That they would not be judged by the color of their skin but for the context of their character," Morial said. "We're that generation and we must continue the race. Let the work of 1963 go on, let the cause it represents endure and make sure King's dream endures."
Evangelist Rodney J. Long, founder and president of the King Commission, spoke about economic equality.
"We need to fight for economic justice, so we have a seat in the table of the economic pie." Long said. "We're committed to economic equality and to work for economic justice in Alachua County."
Morial said he and Allie Brasswell Jr., president and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League, are in discussions with Long to assist in the economic agenda for Gainesville and Alachua County.
Long, in telephone interview on Monday, said Gainesville and Alachua County have areas designated for redevelopment with plans already in place, but investment capital is needed.
"Innovation is great," Long said.
"We need our economy to thrive. We need jobs for those who graduated high school but can't find entry-level work opportunities. We need jobs for people out of prison who can't find work to support their families."
"We need to give people opportunities," Long said. "It's about fairness."
King holiday events
The King Celebration holiday activities will be observed on Monday with the following activities:
National Holiday Press Conference will take place at 10:30 a.m. at the King Memorial Garden, 200 E. University Ave. (252-376-2442)
Hall of Fame Award Enshrinement Program, featuring Hall of Fame honoree Louis Kalivoda, will be held at 11 a.m. at the King Memorial Garden. (352-376-2442)
National Holiday Kick-Off Program, featuring speaker, Jenna Stafford, the winner of the 2013 Edna M. Hart Keeper of the Dream Award, will take place at noon at the Bo Diddley Downtown Community Plaza. (352-870-5869)
King Celebration Commemorative March will begin at 1 p.m. at the King Memorial Garden and end at the King Center at 1028 NE. 14th St. (352-246-8071)
National Holiday Gospel Program, featuring national recording artist Lawrence Flowers & Intercession, will be held at 2 p.m. at the King Center, 1028 NE 14th St. (352-380-9119)
The "Remembering Coretta" observance program, which will feature keynote speaker Aynesse Geffrard, immediate past president of the Iota Lambda chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. at the University of Florida, will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at New Macedonia Baptist Church at 1204 NW 10th Ave.
For more information, call 352-246-8071.
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