MLK Day speaker urges thinking outside of the box
By Steven Hoffman
Martin Luther King CommUNITY breakfast speaker Rev. Harold Trulear told his audience they must think “outside the box” and not succumb to the urge of returning others’ antagonism with more of the same. Instead, they should draw on the example of Dr. Martin Luther King and use nonviolence and God’s love to overcome racial prejudice and injustice.
“King talked about the power of love to overcome divisiveness,” he said.
Trulear, who addressed the 350 or so attendees at the 19th annual event on Monday, is a Baptist minister and serves an associate professor of applied theology at Howard University. He is on the pastoral staff of Praise and Glory Tabernacle in Philadelphia and has authored numerous articles, essays and reviews.
He cited examples of people who had chosen the radical action of departing from returning adversity with more adversity by making unexpected choices guided by God’s love.
He talked about how Martin Luther King was under pressure and received threats of death because of his political activism. Tempted to leave town, King instead used his religious faith to give him strength and remain in place, continuing to work overcoming poverty, injustice and war.
“Anger and righteous indignation will take you down… King was able to think outside of the box and out of the mess came the [Civil Rights] movement,” Trulear said.
King was assassinated in Memphis Tennessee in 1968. In 1983, a bill was introduced to memorialize his life and legacy with a federal holiday on his birthday. That bill was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.
The annual Martin Luther King Jr. CommUNITY Breakfast was founded by the late Kennett Square resident, historian and civic leader Mable Thompson in 2001. The theme this year was “Building a Beloved Community in the Face of Adversity.”
In addition to providing a breakfast for the guests at the Kennett Fire Company Red Clay Room, the program routinely includes speeches, MLK readings and music from the Kennett Square CommUNITY Choir, led by former mayor and musician Leon Spencer.
The program began promptly at 8 a.m. with a greeting from Carol Black, the president of the Martin Luther King CommUNITY of Greater Kennett Area Committee. She said she grew up with Thompson in Kennett Square and now lives in West Grove. “She always wanted me to get on the committee, and I finally did,” Black said.
Invocations were given by Unionville Presbyterian Church Pastor Annalie Korengle and Jewish Chabad Iuvitch follower Mark Pevar. Local Boy Scouts presented the colors.
“May this be a place where diversity is accepted and celebrated,” Korengle said.
Pevar compared King to Moses. “They both led the paths from slavery to freedom,” he said.
Following the singing of the National Anthem, the guests were invited to join in the Negro National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Rev. Frederick Faison of Lincoln University gave an inspiring and passionate reading of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. He was followed by additional presentations by County Commissioner Michelle Kichline and Kennett Square Borough Council members Mayra Zavala and Rosa Moore.
The master of ceremonies for the breakfast event was Greg Thompson, who received his PH.D. in theology, ethics and culture at the University of Virginia’s Department of Religious Studies. His dissertation was “An Experiment in Love: Martin Luther King and the Re-Imagining of American Democracy.”
He reminded the audience of the fact that slave trade existed in America, and it should not be forgotten.
Thompson, who still lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, said he is working to establish an Underground Railroad Memorial in the Kennett Square area, inasmuch as there is a rich history and association with the movement and Harriet Tubman here.
The morning event was concluded with the singing of the historical protest song, “We Shall Overcome.”