By Terry Rogers
On Monday, January 16, local area churches held a celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The program, entitled “Pass the Dream On: Emphasis on Youth,” was held at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School and featured speeches from four scholarship winners as well as musical presentations.
“Today is the day we focus not only of the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King but also the memories we are making today,” Rev. Dr. Patricia Green said. “We want our young people to realize this is not just a day off. We want our young people to be aware of what this day is really about.” The program began with Proverbs 4:10-17 read by Destiny Duffy and the audience joining together to sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” led by Revs. Ken Behrens and Ruth Houston-Behrens.
Elijah Brinkley, a student at Milford High School, read an original poem in which he described what Dr. King meant in his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. The speech was given during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC in 1963. The speech was actually an improvised sermon Dr. King delivered after giving his planned speech.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’” Dr. King said. “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged on the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.” Mr. Brinkley talked in his poem about how Dr. King’s dream meant an end to segregation and the start of equality and how segregation had become integration in schools, jobs, even the military. Mr. Brinkley said that Dr. King’s dream included “you, me and everyone in the United States of America. We are all part of his dream.”
Each year, scholarships are awarded by the Milford Area Ministerial Association and the Milford International Ministers Alliance who organize the ceremony in honor of Dr. King. The first year, the organizations gave one scholarship. As of 2016, they were able to award three scholarships to students who wrote essays explaining the legacy of Dr. King. Alexa Gorman, Jerome Harris, Ezra Wong Sze Chuan and Abigail Roxby have all received scholarships through the organizations. Alexa Gorman was not available for the program, but Jerome Harris, Ezra Wong Sze Chuan and Abigail Roxby all recorded excerpts from their essays for the ceremony.
“We are all on this Earth for a period of time and I truly believe that I was put here to serve,” Mr. Harris, who attends Liberty University, said. “Martin Luther King devoted his time to humanity. He fought for what he believed in, always putting others first. I hope that I can live my life with even some of the integrity that Dr. King did. I believe I was meant to make a difference just as he did.” Mr. Chuan, who is attending Multimedia University in Malaysia, said that he hoped to apply what he learned from Dr. King to help the people of his native country, hoping that people could put aside their differences and work as one.
Abigail Roxby is a nursing student at Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma. Dr. Green said that Ms. Roxby had been a missionary since she was six years old.
“Since I was small I wanted to help people,” Ms. Roxby said. “God created me to help others. I have been able to do that beyond my nursing studies where I will help people through the medical field. I travelled to Kosovo as a missionary, a country where it can be dangerous to preach the word of God. I also travelled to Macedonia and worked in a Syrian refugee camp. This allowed me to put a face to human suffering that many only see on the news or read about. These people have lost everything, yet they continue to dream. A dream doesn’t have to be big. Even a small dream is important to getting where you want to be. Never discount your dreams because they are what let you achieve great things.”
Dr. Green said that it was important to focus on the dream as each of the scholarship recipients described. She said that the words of the young people demonstrated how keeping Dr. King’s dream alive among young people would keep the country moving forward.
“Each one of these young people has their own way of giving back to the world,” Dr. Green said. “They are keeping Dr. King’s dream alive.”
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