January 31, 2013
Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was celebrated January 21 in Holly Springs by remembering the life and contributions the slain civil rights leader made in the American struggle for equality.
Bro. Bennie Braswell, minister of the Hernando Road Church of Christ, was keynote speaker for this year’s annual breakfast. He drew from his experience as a minister to challenge people to take responsibility for their lives and their families.
He gave thanks first to Almighty God, then laid out the rhyme and reason for the occasion – the remembrance of what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for.
Braswell said King’s life was about unity of mankind – “that all men are on the same sheet, because we are of the human race.”
King, born Jan. 15, 1929, was born Michael King, then his name was changed to his father’s name after his mother married Martin Luther King Sr.
King was a “drum major for justice, became famous but it was not planned,” Braswell said.
It was the event of the attempt to send seamstress Rosa Parks to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Ala., that put fire under King’s feet – the event that led to his life of unplanned fame.
“He became famous because of preparation, preparation, preparation,” Braswell said. “He prepared himself to be an instrument of righteousness. He understood that education happens in the living room, in the kitchen, when a person decides to open a book…. Continue to grow your knowledge because that is what he did.
“He educated his mind. He became the catalyst, the spokesman. What an ambassador we had in Martin Luther King Jr.
“We need to do the same.”
King’s biggest hope was that humanity would revere and recognize humanity, he said. His greatest disappointment was that religious people who should know what is right, who should do what’s right, sit on the sidelines and criticize others for what is being done, Braswell said.
He said there can be no unity when folks talk about each other, criticize each other.
He said King believed that action should be taken rather than waiting for something to change.
“King came up with the urgency of now…get it right now,” Braswell said.
“The home, the workplace, our community is our stage.”
Citing statistics, he said two years ago the high school graduation rate in the state was 50 percent.
“We are going to have a society full of trouble,” he said. “They want to get a good-paying job. We will look to the right and to the left of us to make sure they are not robbing us. We have work to do.”
The teen pregnancy rate is 55 per 1,000, he said. He was the product of a single parent, but he said single mothers are not raising their children in God’s ways, as they once did.
When a child gets connected to God, the child realizes that God wants him to do right, he said.
“Our young black men from age 20 to 29 – one in eight of them find themselves in jail or prison every day – a 12.5 percent jail rate.
He said many black males have their first experience with jail because they neglected to renew their driver’s license, pay a speeding ticket, etc.
“Once you get into the system, it is hard to get out,” he said.
Braswell said that affirmative action should be kept because it has helped so many African Americans who have prepared themselves for work, get jobs.
If legislation returns to the way it was before affirmative action, African Americans will be locked out again, he said.
“We will be going backward, not forward, if we have to build our own schools all over again,” he said.
Complacency and a complaining attitude can hurt society when people use excuses. As examples, he said some say the NAACP is outdated and no longer needed. Or others say their own birthdays are not celebrated, so why celebrate King’s.
“A person like Dr. King comes along in a century or two,” Braswell said. “Adore it, cherish it.”
Some quotes from Martin Luther King’s speeches were presented:
• “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
The quote was recited by Holly Springs Mayor Andre’ DeBerry, who offered words of greetings.
• “I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about brotherhood; I’m concerned about truth. When one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.”
It was recited by District 3 supervisor Charles Terry, who offered greetings.
• “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
It was recited by Shirley Byers, county prosecuting attorney, who served as emcee.
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