GAMBIER — Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream...” speech can be recalled by many who heard it firsthand across the radio or on televsion, or read it in newspapers or books. Those words continue on today, in honor of a movement that changed the course of history. As people across the nation celebrated the legacy of Dr. King on Monday, Kenyon College and Mount Vernon Nazarene University held their sixth annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast.
Keynote speaker was Dr. Derrick Alridge; other speakers included Kenyon College President Dr. S. Georgia Nugent, Mount Vernon Nazarene University President Dr. Dan Martin and Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis. The breakfast also featured a praise dance by MVNU student DeAnna Hardeman, and a musical selection, “Stand Together for What You Believe,” by Erin Salva and Ellen Blanchard.
The words of the National Black Anthem,“Lift every voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring, ring with the harmonies of liberty ...,” rang throughout the hall as the crowd sang during the program’s muscial selection.
Alridge spoke about the obscurity in the ideal of the legacy of King. He recalled as a child listening to King’s speech before attending church on Sunday morning, and he could remember his school days of learning about the King legacy. Alridge refers to the history as being one dimensional — not acknowledging the pain and passion in King’s speech or King’s movement of the “poor people campaign.” He said the public rarely hears about King’s anti-war and other critiques of the government. At one point, said Alridge, King was investigated by the FBI. King brought forth ideals of hope and the revolutionary spirit, but he was not a man without faults, Alridge said in concluding his speech.
The celebration was made more important to many participants because King’s legacy can be seen today as the nation’s first African-American president is inaugurated today. Nugent commented on this celebration by saying, “It is impossible to be here in celebration without thinking about what will occur tomorrow. ... This is an extraordinary moment of celebration.”
Mavis said that “Everyone, male or female, black or white, should have the dream of one day becoming president of the United States.”
Martin reflected upon the theme of this year’s breakfast, “Children of the dream,” speaking of the legacy continuing today.
Winners of the First-Knox National Bank Essay Contest were recognized. Students were asked to write about the legacy of King and what that means to them. Also recognized were recipients of the First-Knox National Bank Book Scholarship for college students. Joyce Hogan of the Dr. King Legacy Committee presented Ariel Corp.’s Spirit of the Vision Award to Kenyon College professor and provost Ric Sheffield, and Reba May Williams