Dr. King’s words remembered across region

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Local leaders and citizens of Greene County marched through the streets of Eutaw in the rain before gathering at the courthouse for a freedom rally to honor the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Local resident Will Peterson said they were gathered to honor the changes King brought to Greene County and everywhere else.

“Martin Luther King not only made a difference in Greene County and Eutaw, he made a difference in the world,” Peterson said. “We need to remember what he did and why we are here today.”

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Spiver W. Gordon, Treasurer of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, agreed it was important to honor the changes King brought, but they also needed to focus on areas where change was still needed.

“For those of you who think it is all over, it isn’t all over yet,” Gordon said. “We are fighting a war right now where thousands of young people are being killed. In Greene County we have violence and drugs and crime. It is all over.”

Violence in Greene County, Gordon said, was a very real problem. He said they needed to use King’s visions from the past to overcome current problems.

“Somehow we need to catch Dr. King’s message and truly think about nonviolence and what it means,” Gordon said. “We have to turn to each other and not on each other. We want to encourage you to take that theme and use it as you go on in life during 2006.”

The keynote speaker for the program was movie producer, screenwriter and actor Roger Wilson of New York. Wilson said it was hard to imagine what King and his followers went through for those who are too young to remember.

“We who received freedom like a gift card in the mail can never understand what it was to yearn for the days of a wholly democratic nation,” Wilson said. “It was a yearning that went so insatiably unanswered until Dr. King made sure the yearning would have to end once and for all.”

Wilson also pondered what it must have been like to be in the shoes of the great civil rights leader. He said it was definitely a tough job, but a job that had to be done.

“Sometimes I wonder how awesome it must have been to be Martin Luther King, but at the same time I wonder how difficult,” Wilson said. “It was awesome in the fact that he knew his life’s mission at a very early age and he knew god’s endorsement of it. But difficult that his very words and the action that they inspired could cause hatred in that so many people tried to tear him down.”

Regardless of the challenges, Wilson said, he was certain King knew exactly what was in store.

“Martin Luther King I am sure was aware of just how difficult his life could be,” Wilson said. “He was aware that a man could be betrayed by his friends, persecuted by the powers that be, nailed to a cross, buried in a nameless tomb and still wind up the most significant character in history. Dr. King knew his task and he knew his place in history.”

During King’s march to Washington, Wilson said, they did not cover a lot of ground. The distance spanned only from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. But Wilson said this only proved how much could be accomplished in a short distance.

“He proved that you don’t need to travel a great distance to accomplish something extremely great,” Wilson said. “It brings new meaning to what astronaut Neil Armstrong said as he stepped onto the moon. ‘That’s one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.”