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January 21, 2014

King’s message resonates 46 years after assassination

DUNCAN — The memory and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. were invoked in Duncan on Monday during a program that coincided with thousands of other observances around the United States.

“We need to reawaken his dream, remember his legacy,” the Rev. E. Jennings Tyson, pastor of New Hope Church in Oklahoma City, said in a speech at Antioch Baptist Church. “I cannot remember ever going and sitting at the back of the bus. Any time we got on the bus, we could sit anywhere.

“We’ve come here today to remember the man. Not only do we remember the man, we remember the movement. The strength is in all of us coming together. Even in 2014, we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.”

“I believe Dr. King would be proud of us,” Tyson said. “We’ve got a lot to be proud of. But I think Dr. King would have his head hung down by the way we treat each other. He had a concern for everybody. He wanted everyone to work together, walk together.”

More than 50 people attended the gathering at Antioch Baptist.

Schools in Duncan and most other towns in Stephens County gave students the day off to observe MLK Day, which was approved in 1983 by President Reagan. Only two others have holidays named after them in the United States: Christopher Columbus and Christopher Columbus.

Mayor Gene Brown was among the speakers honoring King, an advocate for nonviolent change in the tradition of Gandhi.  

“Many of his words still ring true today,” Brown said . “It should be an action day for every day, not just when we’re here to celebrate him. We all can do our part.”

The Rev. Ronald Boyd, pastor of Antioch, led the program, noting how he paved the future for young people.

Abby Johnson, a member of the East Side Ministerial Alliance, said her invitation to    speak about King’s most famous speech,  in which he told thousands gathered in Washinton, D.C., that he “had a dream,” prompted her to reflect on its significance for the first time.

“I know all that stuff was out there,” she said of segregation and discrimnation . “He talked about being able to go where you wanted to go, buy what you wanted to buy, go to school where you want to go.

“If we don’t have a dream to do something, nothing will get done. What are your dreams? We need to continue to fight the hate.”

 King was 39 years old in 1968 when he was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., where he had traveled to support city sanitation workers in a labor dispute. James Earl Ray, a racist with a lengthy rap sheet, avoided a possible death sentence by pleading  guilty to the crime. He was given a 99-year sentence and  died in prison at the age of 70 in 1998.

 

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