In commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, APB speakers across the map reflected on the Civil Rights leader whose non-violent activism forever transformed race relations in the United States. Though they celebrated King’s life, they reminded Americans that his work remains unfinished, and that it remains our duty to continue his legacy.
Race and gender justice activist Nontombi Naomi Tutu spoke at the 22nd MLK Day Breakfast in Minneapolis, an event entitled, “Building Peace and Unity within the Global Community.” The daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu urged her audience to continue to strive toward making King’s dream a reality.
“We who say we believe in justice, we who say we believe in the dream, are called to be those whose lives, whose every actions, whose any action, speaks to our belief in that possibility,” she said. “We are those who believe that the beloved community is not some dream, but a goal.”
In Lexington, Kentucky, social critic and intellectual Dr. Marc Lamont Hill delivered the keynote address at the city’s 40th annual MLK Birthday Celebration.
Echoing Tutu’s message, Ashley Campbell, a UK student in attendance, said Hill’s address encouraged her to keep working for greater equality.
“Lots of people think we have made it, but actually we haven’t,” she said. “We need to keep striving to educate ourselves, respect each other, those of different cultures and minorities.”
This year Dr. King’s youngest daughter, APB speaker Bernice King, attended the annual MLK Day breakfast at the Prime Osborn Convention Center in Florida. As the honorary guest speaker, she urged guests at the breakfast to find the greatness within them and help others in need.
King inspired the audience and ensured her father’s dream continued to live on. Mayor of Jacksonville Alvin Brown was inspired and motivated by her words saying, “What better way to celebrate the legacy, making a call to action to the dream that we all work together.” Just like her father, she has a gift to change the lives of those who come into contact with her.
At the annual King luncheon in Peoria, Illinois, best-selling author Michael Eric Dyson urged today’s leaders to emulate King’s tenacity. He remarked that King’s steadfast opposition to the Vietnam War caused him to lose a significant amount of popularity, yet he never shied away from his principals.
“When black people criticized him, he kept going. When white people criticized him, he kept going,” Dyson said.
Accordingly, he called President Barack Obama to follow suit and “speak up more intelligently” about issues like poverty that affect an entire nation, because, “we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny,” he said, quoting King.