For the Morehouse family, celebrating the birthday of one of its favored sons is not a lesson on the past, but a call-to-action in the here and now.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the words that Martin Luther King Jr. ’48 spoke during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1964 resonate across four decades to address issues of the dispossessed in 2006:
“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up.”
Harry Edward Johnson Sr., a Houston lawyer and president of the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project, told the Jan. 19 Crown Forum congregation, that King’s words remind us of the work to be done today.
“Thirty years later, we watched poor people—not people from developing countries, but people from America—we watched them lose their homes, their possessions, their morale and their hope. It was like we had stepped back in time, because the poverty we saw is the same poverty that has existed for years in America.”
Johnson was invited to the College by the Alpha Rho chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (the fraternity is heading the memorial project), the Office of Alumni Relations and the King Chapel Ministries. A fund-raising luncheon in the Leadership Center conference hall had a goal of $10,000 and gave the Morehouse community the opportunity to donate toward the building of the memorial. It is hoped that the event will provide a national student-led initiative to raise funds and awareness of the memorial at college campuses
If we are to keep the King Dream alive, said Johnson, “We ought to demand more from our government. Dr. King demanded more in the 60s, and we should demand more now. We should never again allow humanity to linger in shame just because they have not.”
Johnson also told the congregation that Morehouse should be proud.
“When people visit the Washington mall, they will see, between Presidents Lincoln and Washington, a Morehouse man. ….And what better place for a King to sit than between two presidents of these United States.”
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