MLK's Legacy Is Still Alive in Cherokee
A local event doubled as an educational fundraiser and a history lesson.
The 13th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast was held in the Allen Temple A.M.E. Church Fellowship Hall on Saturday morning. The theme was "Re-Discovering Our Paths," and approximately 350 people attended.
Box centerpieces wrapped in black paper were decorated with silver ribbons, red berries and quotes from King. "It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important," (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 13, 1962) was on one table.
The event doubled as a scholarship fundraiser and history lesson. The guest speaker was 99-year-old Dr. Amelia Boynton Robinson, who served in the civil rights movement beside King in Selma, AL.
“We had a wonderful leader who was designated from the beginning of the world,” Robinson said in her speech. She met King when he came to Alabama with his wife, Coretta, and baby Yolanda.
“We were enamored with the baby, but he was just ordinary,” Robinson said. Her opinion of him changed the more she listened to his speeches. She said King was great not only for his message, but also because of his service to humanity.
Robinson said King gave of himself wherever he could, did not want to be limited to Selma and had a global impact. While in Europe, she was surprised to meet people who had set up memorials to him. She said one reason behind King’s popularity was his ability to relate biblical teachings to everyday life.
She said children should be encouraged to bring their own dreams to reality and avoid the mistake of taking up only others’ visions.
“When young people are caught up in their own dreams, they make fewer mistakes. It’s all right to dream, but don’t let dreams be your master. I believe in dreams, but I don’t believe in letting dreams control you without using your conscience and God’s guidance.”
Robinson said tactics they used during the ‘60s appeared strange to racists. She said she did not work hard just so today’s generation could go to any hotel or restaurant, but she wanted more for them.
“Why not get together and own the building?” she said was the message behind her mission.
She said while folks are standing on her shoulders and thinking back on what has already been accomplished, hate groups are adding new members.
“Just to be given the right to vote is not enough. The civil rights era and the Voting Rights Act were just the beginning,” Robinson said.
Robinson had a message specifically aimed at youth: “Get educated. Go into mathematics, science, astrology, astronomy. Excel. Then we can afford to fight. We need to have ammunition, which is education."
Others Weigh In on MLK’s Legacy
Some people in attendance became emotional while thinking back on King’s life and remembering the ‘60s. Others said they did not understand how people leading the civil rights movement could maintain a nonviolent attitude.
“This is a great way to show fellowship. We’ve come a long way since a car was bombed in my hometown, Anniston, AL, when I was 8 years old.”–Donnie Henriques, Woodstock mayor
“It’s certainly a great day to celebrate. King’s legacy means different things to different people, but all in all, it means that we are one people with equal opportunity to go after the American dream.”–Gene Hobgood, Canton mayor
“This is the celebration of the year because this church has demonstrated their commitment to unity. All the churches are working to be one church without walls.”–the Rev. Fred Goodwin, pastor of the Church of the Messiah, president of the Cherokee Ministerial Foundation
“I’m glad always to be here on this day. I had just come to Atlanta when Martin Luther King was assassinated. It always brings back many memories–some ills, but also the good that grew.”–the Rev. David Collins, retired dean of the Cathedral of St. Phillip, Atlanta
“We think back to what people must have endured and the struggles they went through. We take for granted a lot of freedoms and rights that we have. We have to remember that these were born to us through the blood, tears and death of people like Martin Luther King. I marvel at what they did and how they were able to maintain a nonviolent attitude and not retaliate, which would have made it a more devastating situation.”–Fredrick Clark, steward pro tem, Allen Temple
"It’s very important that these girls participate in this celebration. This is such a good cause. We talked to them and let them know the importance of this day and Black History Month. They are excited and ready to hear the speaker. The song they will be dancing to has Martin Luther King’s voice in it, and they will be projecting through their movements what we need to do as Americans today to keep the dream alive.”–Danielle Warden, leader of the Hands of Praise dance team
"Education helps our youth see beyond their own little world. We need to expose them to the broader world, the world at large and how other people live so they can ignite some dreams of their own."–Desmond Brathwaite, ministerial staff of the youth and married couples