By Chief Condra Ridley
Special to Frost Illustrated
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther Kings Jr.’s speaking at the Scottish Rite Auditorium (now called the University of St. Francis Performing Arts Center), the Urban League and the University of St. Francis partnered to commemorate Dr. King’s powerful message on social justice by focusing on the future of education and how to teach our community members how to increase peace. Dr. Derek King, son of Dr. King’s brother, the late Rev. A.D. King, delivered a keynote address of inspiration and hope to an audience of educators and other concerned citizens.
A number of community figures were on hand to commemorate the anniversary of Dr. M.L. King’s address with service of their own.
WANE TV Channel 15’s Terra Brantley served as mistress of ceremonies for the luncheon, which was held on the lower level of the USF Performing Arts Center from noon to 1:30 p.m. on June 5. Sister Elise Kriss, president of USF, presented to those in attendance Sister Jane Marie and Sister Anna Louise, both of whom were on the nursing staff at the hospital Dr. King was admitted April 4, 1968 after he was assassinated in Memphis. Tenn. The Queens Art and Literature Club presented a dramatic oratory which enlivened the encouraging words of Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and Mary McLeod Bethune. Mayor Tom Henry sent a proclamation to honor Fort Wayne’s faithful civil rights servant leader, the late George Smith, who worked diligently in Meridian, Miss. for voting rights and other opportunities for African Americans.
Dr. Derek King, who was in Fort Wayne last year for the dedication of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge, emphatically encouraged the audience to “complete the unfinished work to the best of our ability.” He said, in the turbulent times we are experiencing, it is imperative that the people of faith reaffirm our equality and rededicate ourselves to ensuring that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” be available to all Americans. He pointed out that his uncle had “raised America’s consciousness on the three evils of racism, poverty and ignorance” and promoted the ideals of peace, justice and human equality. Dr. King declared, “Poverty can be eliminated!”
Dr. Derek King said that economic fairness and justice was a key to the nation’s and the world’s pursuit of those three goals. He said, a redistribution of wealth is required because Americans have become increasingly more greedy and selfish.
Ignorance must be overcome, said Dr. King, explaining that it is responsible for the rash of violence in our communities across the country. But, he differentiated between formal education and rational, responsible, moral thinking.
“Everyone who has an education does not have sense,” he said.
King went to the root of the problem in his challenge to parents to resume the position of power over our children in the home and raise them.
“I was not abused—I was disciplined. Mother and Father ran the house,” he said. “Parents must make certain that their children learn to follow instruction.”
In closing, he exhorted the audience to raise our communities out of the present violent mess by using common sense, conviction, fearlessness and faith.
Editor’s note: In addition to this report by Chief Condra Ridley, Dr. Derek King sat down with Frost Illustrated for an exclusive interview just prior to his presentation at the University of St. Francis Performing Arts Center. In Dr. King addressed a number of issues that are at the forefront of national debate today, including same-sex marriage, immigration and economic disparities in today’s world. That nearly half hour interview, graciously made possible by the USF Communications Department, can be seen in its entirety here http://www.frostillustrated.com/2013/video-interview-with-dr-derek-king/
This article originally appeared in the June 12 print edition.