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2017 MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. CELEBRATION

2017 MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. CELEBRATION

Monday, January 16th, at the Abilene Civic Center, hundreds of people gathered to honor the life and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The theme and title of the Program was The Fabric of America: What Makes America Great. It was a wonderful evening of entertainment, speakers, and dinner organized by The Abilene Black Chamber of Commerce. Other sponsors included Abilene Christian University, Hardin Simmons University, and McMurry University. As well as Southwest Direct, the West Texas Tribune, Hendrick Medical Center, First Financial Bank, and Shelton Family Foundation and the Abilene Reporter News. {{more}} The Program began with the Master of Ceremonies, Rev. Jamar Newman introducing the presentation of colors, courtesy of the Dyess AFB Honor Guard and an invocation by Dr. Joe Alcorta. Mr. Darren Hagood delivered an outstanding spoken word and Ms. Susan Petty was on the piano and played an emotional and powerful song before dinner was served. The keynote speaker was Award-winning veteran journalist Hazel Trice Edney. Edney is president and CEO of Trice Edney Communications and editor-in-chief of the Trice Edney News Wire, which recently became the only black-owned and woman-owned news wire fully credentialed by the U.S. House and Senate Periodicals Press Gallery. Her accomplishments, contributions, awards and the journalistic coverage she has provided over the span of her impressive career have recently been fully documented by TheHistoryMakers.com, which is the largest compilation of pioneering African-American professionals in the nation, now housed in the Library of Congress. Her speech was both spiritually enlightening and a powerful call to action on an individual level. She began by reading Exodus chapters three and four, the story of Moses and the burning bush. But the focus was pulled from a question asked in Exodus 4:2.And the Lord said unto him, What is in thine hand? Edney used this question to illustrate a point of individual and communal responsibility, asking us; What is in YOUR hand Abilene? In other words what has been given to us, what is in our hands that we can use, that we can give, to contribute to the betterment of ourselves, our community, and our nation.She presented many statistics that painted a picture of racial disparity, injustice, and inequality. And asked “How can America be great with so far still yet to go?” But she inspired and encouraged with not only her own words but with quotes from scripture, MLK, and Langston Hughes. Her objective, seemingly, to cause each of us as individuals to notice our abilities and qualities in the context of gifts that have been given us for the purpose of furthering and bettering the quality of life in this nation and in this world for all people, despite color, nationality, gender, and so on. And that although we may not be, as a culture or a nation, exactly where the great Martin Luther King Jr. may have hoped us to be by this time in history, there are actions that we can take to propel us closer to that place. That even though at times we seem to be moving backward rather than forward, we must remain hopeful and steadfast in the conviction that together we can and will continue to make this great Nation not “great again” but better than it is today. “I have a dream today…I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of a mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning. “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountain side, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.”-Martin Luther King Jr. 1963

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