by Terry Rogers
On Monday, January 21, the Milford Area Ministerial Association and the Milford Interdenominational Minister’s Alliance presented “Remembering the Dream: Celebrating the Birthday of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” at Banneker Elementary School. The program, led by Rev. Tiana Banks-Scott, included music selections performed by Ken Behrens, Moment UM and the Milford Central Academy Choir.
“Another year has passed and we continue to unite the Milford community,” Rev. Dr. Patricia Green said. “All of us coming together as one to build on what Dr. Martin Luther King started. Today, we let our youth know they can express themselves and that they really do make a difference.”
Instead of adult speakers from around the community, the two organizations decided to invite young people to talk about what Dr. King meant to them. The first young person to speak was Aree Youmans who attends Morris Early Childhood Center and Mt. Enon Baptist Church.
“Dr. King was a good man, a preacher, a father,” Youmans said. “He fought for equal rights for African Americans just like me. Thank you, Dr. King.”
Samuel Pasmore, who attends Sussex Academy and Avenue United Methodist Church, also commented that Dr. King was a preacher and father who fought for all people. Pasmore pointed out that Dr. King had a dream that people could love each other like Jesus did.
“I don’t see that dream happening all the time,” Pasmore said. “In my school, I see people still being mean to each other and making racial jokes. I try to stay away from those people but I am realizing that it is up to us. It is up to us kids to make this dream a reality. What I hope for is a future that is filled with love and peace.”
Tyquan Daniels, a ninth grader at Milford High School who attends Grace Tabernacle of Deliverance, asked what each person was doing for others to make the world a better place.
“Dr. King said that darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that,” Daniels said. “Hate can’t drive out hate, only love can do that. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Our lives end the day we become silent about things that matter. The time is always right to do what is right. Life’s most important question I need to ask you is what are you doing for others. The ultimate measure of a man is not what he says in moments of comfort but what he says in times of challenge. There are a couple of things that God told me to tell you to be free from today, including myself. Be free from loneliness, hurt, anger, brokenness, abandonment, rejection, suicidal spirit and depression. These are things we have to be delivered from in order to be free. Our freedom becomes our blessing and our freedom comes from multiple spirits that join in peace and love and happiness. But at the end of your freedom, we will realize that we will be able to say, free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last.”
Mayor Archie Campbell provided some little known facts about Dr. King, including that his first name was originally Michael. Dr. King’s father travelled to Germany where he became fascinated with Martin Luther. When he returned to the United States, he changed both his name and his sons to Martin Luther when his son was around five years old. Dr. King’s mother was shot and killed because of his activism and, at a book signing, Dr. King was stabbed in the chest with a letter opener. He was arrested 30 or 40 times, beaten, tortured and eventually killed.
“These are real facts, yet he continued to try to improve the lives of all people,” Mayor Campbell said. “I am living proof that Dr. King was a success. I am the first black Mayor in Milford and in Sussex County. But there is still work to do. At the middle school level in Miflord, there are 900 to 1,000 students, yet there are only two teachers of color. In the high school, there are 1,100 students yet only four teachers of color. I put this challenge out to Kevin and the board to try to change that. I thank you, Dr. King. I would not be standing here without your sacrifices.”
Dr. Kevin Dickerson, Superintendent of Milford School District, said that he appreciated the support the ministerial groups provided to the students of the district. He pointed out that the youth of Milford had strong leadership and the fact that it was the young people of the community who spoke and performed at the celebration demonstrated the support they received.
“I’m so very proud, my heart overflowed as these youngsters were sharing,” Rev. Dr. Jeanel Starling of the Milford Interdenominational Minister’s Alliance, said. “We want to hear what our youngsters are thinking. We need to do more in our community to show we are united. We are a people of God and we need to continue to find ways to come together to make it work.”
Rev. Dr. Art Roxby echoed what Dr. Starling said, stating that he was excited to see the dream of Dr. King alive and well in the children of Milford.
“One thing I often say may sound flippant, although I don’t mean it to be,” Dr. Roxby said. “The question I ask is “So what?” So you’ve been here today to hear the words of a man who fought against injustice. But are we motivated to carry on? One quote from Dr. King speaks to this issue. “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” That is the dream of what we can be if we answer the question “so what.” We are 50 years removed from Dr. King and the struggles continue. If we answer my question with “you only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love,” you will begin to see change. It is not someone else’s job, it is my job. Now is the time to extend a hand of fellowship and unity.”
Sign up for you free digital subscription of The Weekly Review, delivered directly to your email every Tuesday morning. A quick cover-to-cover read to catch up on the news of the week and experience great stories about our local communities. Sign up for your free email subscription below.