Martin Luther King celebration marked by calls for unity, togetherness

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On a cool but sunny Monday morning, a diverse group of about 80 Mineolans marched, sang and prayed in unity during the Ministerial Alliance’s Martin Luther King Day Unity Celebration.

After a greeting by Mayor Kevin White, people linked arms and walked up Johnson Street from the downtown gazebo to First Baptist Church, where they joined in uplifting music and song, prayers of unity and tolerance, and a message of racial togetherness befitting the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was slain in Memphis on April 4, 1968.

The Rev. Demetrius Boyd of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church delivered the keynote address, telling those in attendance that although progress on racial harmony has been made, much work remains.

Were Martin Luther King alive today, he would hear the song “We Shall Overcome” – which became the anthem of the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963 – and ask who was included in the word “We,” Boyd declared.

“Because as they sang that song, if you thought ‘we’ was just for black people you missed the song ‘We Shall Overcome.’ If you thought it was just for white people, you missed the song ‘We Shall Overcome.’ If you thought it was just for Hispanic people, you missed the song ‘We Shall Overcome.’ The song means we shall, meaning all of us together, all of us praying together, working together, living together, being together, sitting together, walking down the street together … not one, not two, but everybody.”

Added Boyd: “If he was here today, I believe he would tell us that we have some work to do.”

The theme of Monday’s unity celebration was “Pressing Forward with Progress.”

The phrase “suggests that we’ve already made progress, but if you want to press forward, we can’t be satisfied with the progress we’ve made, because there’s still work to be done. We can’t get satisfied with how far we’ve come because the race is not over,” Boyd remarked.

People must strive for ways “to bring ourselves together rather than ways to separate us.

It doesn’t matter what church you go to; we all bleed red. We all have the same risen savior. We all serve the same God. And if we can’t get together down here how do expect to get together up there?” Boyd said.

“I believe in my heart that today’s a good day,” he continued. “Today we challenge people to look in the mirror and not be satisfied with the status quo. Not to be satisfied with how far we’ve gotten together. We’ve got to continue to press forward. We’ve got to continue to march forward. We’ve got to continue to look forward. Because the moment we (become complacent) one person can mess it up for everybody and set us back, 15, 20, 30 years if we’re not careful. So we’ve got to keep pressing forward.”

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