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Chester County Press

Lincoln University audience celebrates life, words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

01/17/2023 02:53PM ● By Richard Gaw

Photo by Richard L. Gaw              An audience of more than 250 attended the 22nd Annual Celebration of MLK Day, sponsored by the Martin Luther King Community of the Greater Kennett Area, held Jan. 16 at Lincoln University.


By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

Over the course of his short, 39-year-old life, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. scattered his wisdom, his commitment and his grandest dreams in the form of some of the most eloquent words ever uttered in the English language, as if they were the hopeful seeds to a better world.

On Jan. 16, before a large and appreciative audience of more than 250 at Lincoln University’s Wellness Center, a few of those words were shared at the 22nd Annual Celebration of MLK Day, sponsored by the Martin Luther King Community of the Greater Kennett Area.

In her opening comments, Carol Black, the president of the Board of Directors for the MLKCommUNITY, said Dr. King’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s made him one of the most influential persons in history. She recalled some of King’s milestones, which included the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott that helped to end segregation in public buses; his founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the Birmingham Campaign, which called out police brutality and injustice; the Great March on Washington in 1963; the adoption of non-violent resistance to achieve equal rights fro Black Americans that earned him the Nobel Peace Prize; and for his marches throughout the Deep South that led to the end of voting restrictions in southern states and eventually the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965.

“We honor him today for his groundbreaking achievements in advancing racial equality and justice for all people, and for his dedication to non-violence, and we will never forget him, will we?” Black said. “We will never forget his bravery, his compassion and his love for all mankind.

Dr. King’s vision for us today is to work to build the Beloved Community – a group of people who could come together to solve any issue. Dr. King taught us how to build that community. He said, ‘Creating the Beloved Community is about bringing the gaps between the haves, but bridging the gaps between the haves and the have-nots with real opportunities. It’s about creating more of that precious commodity that we call hope – real hope for the forgotten, the disadvantaged and the marginalized citizens of our communities, regardless of their race.”

Following a fellowship breakfast, the event featured readings of excerpts from King’s most famous speeches, delivered by Lincoln students Jemeria Pantoon-Whitehead, Kamar Durant and Nyle Buckann; and Ambika and Tom Chacko; and musical performances by the Lincoln University Concert Choir, under the direction of Victoria Pitre.

After a presentation by keynote speaker and Lincoln graduate Oliver St. Claire Franklin -- now a filmmaker and the Third Honorary British Consul of Philadelphia -- the event sponsored individual workshops and presentations. In his presentation, former Sen. Andy Dinniman led a discussion on the current racial and political divide facing the United States, and solutions that could create a just and equitable community. Karen Simmons, Timothy Nelson of the Chester County Community Foundation discussed their foundation’s current work in developing diversity, equity and inclusion in their programs and initiatives throughout the county.

The event concluded with a screening of Franklin’s film, Slavery in the Age of Revolution, that reflected on the transatlantic slave trade and its lasting impact on society.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].