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The 17th Annual MLK Dinner

The 17th Annual MLK Dinner

By Joe Starkey

 

 

 

It is not usual for the President of a college to open his speech hoping that he will not disappoint. But then, most do not have to speak after a wonderful group of 3rd and 4th graders leading the Pledge of Allegiance, great music by the Mann Middle School Ensemble, magnificent singing by the Abilene Combined Male Chorus and a five year old giving an oration of “I have a Dream” with the power of Martin Luther King. Dr. George C. Wright, President {{more}} of Prairie View A&M University did open with personal doubts but soon had the audience listening with their whole minds and open hearts. He opened with his personal memories from the day of the assassination thinking “Why him when he stood for good for all mankind?” He spoke of the opportunities that Dr. King and his death opened for a 14 year old in Kentucky. First was that the University of Kentucky opened to people of color. His application to attend was approved but he knew that his family did not have the money to make this happen. Shortly before he was due to start college, the University re-evaluated what they were actually doing to make Dr. King’s dreams come true and provided him money for four years of college. Then, as he was graduating, Duke University admitted Dr. Wright as the first black doctoral candidate. They offered him just three years of money to complete a four year program. So he buckled down and became “not only the first black to receive a Doctorate from Duke but also the fastest.”“I wrote books about the worst of black times.” However, going to Germany and visiting Dachau brought him to the sign “We Shall Never Forget” and he realized that it meant not that the Jewish people would get revenge but that they would remember the past and work to prevent wrongs in the future. He realized that Martin Luther King meant that remembering our past was a clarion call to better ourselves.Thinking of Martin Luther King, he remembered that even though King was/is the symbolic leader of Civil Rights – his leadership lasted only from 1966-1968. Some of Rev. King’s accomplishments include:Public accommodations and voting rights for all A blueprint for how change could be made without humiliating people who were opposed.These changes were made not just for Black people but for all. Dr. Wright believes that If King was alive today, he would teach that all people have responsibility to help the most vulnerable in our society. He would say how wonderful to see all the different groups gathered here tonight. Dr. Wright stated that one of the tragedys of today is that we have lost the will to sit down with other races to honestly talk of our differences. “We never concede to the other person that they may be right” but just state our position and pretend to listen. We need to talk openly and honestly about crime. There is a tendency today that racial incidents are an example of the whole rather than dealing with the specifics of the incident.He concluded by saying “We are on the road to Racial Equality. Not where we were but not where we should be.” People today benefit from the work of others who went before them. He used the opening up of Kentucky Universities to people of color and how that education opened up the wide world for him to go places he had never dreamed of such as Australia, Berlin and the Wall, The Great Wall of China and many others. “My life shows the possibilities available in America.”Mr. Floyd Miller closed the program with thanks to all who made the evening possible. He finished by reading “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win hi understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love.”All stood for the singing of the Black Anthem lead by Ms. Crystal Wiley and the Benediction by Elder Jerry Jordan of the Faith Deliverance Community Church. By Joe StarkeyIt is not usual for the President of a college to open his speech hoping that he will not disappoint. But then, most do not have to speak after a wonderful group of 3rd and 4th graders leading the Pledge of Allegiance, great music by the Mann Middle School Ensemble, magnificent singing by the Abilene Combined Male Chorus and a five year old giving an oration of “I have a Dream” with the power of Martin Luther King. Dr. George C. Wright, President of Prairie View A&M University did open with personal doubts but soon had the audience listening with their whole minds and open hearts. He opened with his personal memories from the day of the assassination thinking “Why him when he stood for good for all mankind?” He spoke of the opportunities that Dr. King and his death opened for a 14 year old in Kentucky. First was that the University of Kentucky opened to people of color. His application to attend was approved but he knew that his family did not have the money to make this happen. Shortly before he was due to start college, the University re-evaluated what they were actually doing to make Dr. King’s dreams come true and provided him money for four years of college. Then, as he was graduating, Duke University admitted Dr. Wright as the first black doctoral candidate. They offered him just three years of money to complete a four year program. So he buckled down and became “not only the first black to receive a Doctorate from Duke but also the fastest.”“I wrote books about the worst of black times.” However, going to Germany and visiting Dachau brought him to the sign “We Shall Never Forget” and he realized that it meant not that the Jewish people would get revenge but that they would remember the past and work to prevent wrongs in the future. He realized that Martin Luther King meant that remembering our past was a clarion call to better ourselves.Thinking of Martin Luther King, he remembered that even though King was/is the symbolic leader of Civil Rights – his leadership lasted only from 1966-1968. Some of Rev. King’s accomplishments include:Public accommodations and voting rights for all A blueprint for how change could be made without humiliating people who were opposed.These changes were made not just for Black people but for all. Dr. Wright believes that If King was alive today, he would teach that all people have responsibility to help the most vulnerable in our society. He would say how wonderful to see all the different groups gathered here tonight. Dr. Wright stated that one of the tragedys of today is that we have lost the will to sit down with other races to honestly talk of our differences. “We never concede to the other person that they may be right” but just state our position and pretend to listen. We need to talk openly and honestly about crime. There is a tendency today that racial incidents are an example of the whole rather than dealing with the specifics of the incident.He concluded by saying “We are on the road to Racial Equality. Not where we were but not where we should be.” People today benefit from the work of others who went before them. He used the opening up of Kentucky Universities to people of color and how that education opened up the wide world for him to go places he had never dreamed of such as Australia, Berlin and the Wall, The Great Wall of China and many others. “My life shows the possibilities available in America.”Mr. Floyd Miller closed the program with thanks to all who made the evening possible. He finished by reading “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win hi understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love.”All stood for the singing of the Black Anthem lead by Ms. Crystal Wiley and the Benediction by Elder Jerry Jordan of the Faith Deliverance Community Church.