Ward: Dr. King’s legacy lives on only if we do more than remember him

Published 7:00 pm Monday, January 21, 2019

If people want to remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, they need to do more than make speeches and participate in parades and special events.

“Dr. King didn’t end his life on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel for us to go to sleep in 2019,” Everett B. Ward, the 35th general president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and president of St. Augustine’s College, told the more than 300 people attending the 30th annual Omicron Rho Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast Monday.

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The program included the presentation of the fraternity’s community service award to Linda Fondren, and scholarships to high school seniors and seventh-graders.

Addressing the group, Ward quoted King, saying, “When bad men preach hatred, good men must stand up.”

“Where are the good men and women?” he asked the audience, “Are you one of them? Are you willing to do what’s right?”

Ward said people have to remember King and his wife Coretta Scott King, “made the conscious decision to take the first step regardless of sacrifice and to return to the south and make things better for others.”

King, he said, had an earned PhD, “So he had the option to have university professorships that he could have had and accepted in the northern part of the United States.

“He had pastoral offers in the northern cities. His young bride was an accomplished musician with advanced degrees in music. They came to the collective decision to return to the Jim Crow segregated south and fight for freedom and justice. That was their first decision; it was the right decision.”

Ward warned about getting caught up in the commercial image of King.

“If we get caught up in just a speech about a dream, then we truly don’t understand the length and breadth of the intellect of this great steward of Christ.

“I’m going to follow the steps of the King who walked the streets of Vicksburg, Jackson and Meridian for justice and freedom,” he said, adding King was instrumental in helping pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

He said young people will not have to fight “the same fight that we had to fight that Dr. King and so many others had to die for and gave their lives for. We want to make certain that they know that as an American Citizen they have the right to vote, and we should do everything that we can (to educate them).

“If you want to honor Dr. King, say something to one of these young people here today. Encourage them. That’s what Dr. King would have us do. Give them the opportunity to go to college and fulfill their dream.

“Today we celebrate his legacy, but tomorrow morning, and even starting this afternoon, remember him by the service that you give and the dedication that you continue to provide that honors Dr. King 365 days of the year, not just on Jan. 15,” Ward continued.

“It’s great to remember that (legacy), but what’s more important is that we do something for the future.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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