Speakers urge unity, peace in remembrance of civil rights leader

Monday, January 19, 2004
Jack McBride, a member of the Missouri Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Commission, speaks Monday morning during the "Having Our Say" MLK Jr. holiday celebration at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Marshall.

On a day set aside for Americans of all races to unite in love and peace while remembering and honoring Martin Luther King Jr., a crowd of ministers, youth, veterans and supporters of unity gathered in Marshall for a time of prayer.

The annual community prayer breakfast and service was sponsored by the Mar-Saline branch of the NAACP Monday morning at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church.

Jack McBride, who was a deputy marshal during King's funeral, spoke about his experiences on that day but also from his position as a member of Missouri's Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Commission.

McBride, from Fulton, reviewed the life of King while stating some of his own dreams for America. Along with wanting youth to understand where America came from and where it, and they, are headed, McBride presented a brief history lesson and a challenge for people today.

"To change things, Dr. King had to be willing to challenge the system," McBride said. "He challenged the racial injustice of this community with nonviolence."

Using King's dream as an example for today's communities, McBride encouraged his listeners to look for things that unite people, not divide them.

"We still have a long and major job ahead," he said. "All over America there are still prejudices, and, my friends, as Dr. King said, diversity need not divide us. ... No group can make it alone."

As a symbol of the peace those in attendance believe King was seeking for the world, several ministers and lay people prayed for different aspects of life they wanted God to touch and bless.

Rev. Dale Bean, pastor of First Assembly of God Church in Marshall, read 1 John 4:7-21, explaining the nature of God is love. Through the scripture, he emphasized God's command to love one another as God loves all mankind.

Mistress of ceremonies Hannah Henderson then further examined the scripture through her own words of encouragement.

"When one falls down, whether it be me or you, black or white, us loving each other as people and not as color, that's what Dr. King was about," she said.

Another speaker, Rev. David Van Horn, pastor of New Salem United Church of Christ in Little Rock, read portions of one of King's speeches. Van Horn said King was influenced by the life of Jesus Christ and led by the Holy Spirit as he tried to bring his dream to fulfillment.

Van Horn also questioned those at the service, asking them to evaluate their own intentions and dreams for the world.

"Everything (King) did was for the purpose of bringing about this beloved community," Van Horn said. "He had a dream. Have you caught that dream? Or maybe you had it and you lost it and you need to get it again. That's why, above all other reasons, we celebrate this day."

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