How is Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy holding up today?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Shelley Smith

Salisbury Post

At Livingstone College, Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy lives on daily, and students and staff celebrated his life and message Wednesday morning at Varick Auditorium.

The Rev. Shawin DuBois, a student and also the master of ceremonies, introduced King’s celebration: “We are bold to believe his teachings are not beyond our reach but are within our grasp.”

Teresa Moore-Mitchell, who sang with the Metropolitan Opera at the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, captured her audience with an a capella performance of the national anthem.

William “Pete” Kennedy of the Salisbury City Council reminded students that he graduated from Livingstone in 1962, during a time when African-Americans were fighting daily for civil rights.

He recalled having to drink from separate water fountains and entering public restaurants through the back door.

Kennedy remembers Livingstone students marching toward equality through the streets of Salisbury.

“By knowing your history, you can continue the progress that we started in the 1960s,” he reminded the students.

Dr. Jimmy Jenkins, president of Livingstone College, compared Dr. King’s life to that of Jesus.

“In the days when he marched, he was feared and hated by many … This man died because he believed right would prevail in the end.”

King’s message has been heard, and right has prevailed, but Wednesday’s guest of honor, the Rev. Anthony Davis, reminded the audience that America still has a long way to go.

Livingstone’s Concert Choir gave an uplifting performance of “You Must Have That True Religion,” and, after a thunderous end, left the auditorium silent. Davis asked the students: “What’s up with the dream?”

He recalled a scripture from the book of Genesis to describe King’s struggle toward equality: “They hated him, but when he told them his dream, they hated him even more.”

Davis warned the students that the dream has dangerously drifted off course. He recalled the New York man recently gunned down by police the day before his wedding, and asked, “What’s up with the dream?”

Davis also reminded students that the government spends $30 million a day on the “war on terror” but cannot seem to find enough money to improve schools or find a cure for diseases.

“What’s up with the dream?” he asked.

“Haters” are everywhere,” Davis said, but he urged students to ignore them. The haters did not get King down, he said.

“The problem with haters is that they don’t need a reason to hate you. A hater doesn’t really hate you. They hate what you’ve got. They hate what they don’t understand … A hater cannot destroy your dream. He can only distort your dream,” Davis said.

He reminded students that when their dreams are disrupted, they should just keep going.

Kari Johnson, a senior and Student Government Association president, believes just that, she said after the assembly.

Davis’ speech was “inspirational and made me realize that regardless of what people say, I’m going to move on,” she said.

Junior Larry Richardson said Davis motivated him to not let King’s dream die.

Rev. DuBois, the emcee, said he is helping to spread the dream by being involved in the community, including participating in the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, which Dr. King was in himself.

“I am a part of Dr. King’s vision,” DuBois said.

Davis ended by quoting much of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Students in the audience stood and waved their hands as they heard King’s words again.

After the assembly, Davis reflected on talking to the students. “We have an opportunity to connect them to the dream King voiced before many of them were not even born,” he said, “… to fully realize the impact of the man, his mission and his message.”

Contact Shelley Smith at 704-797-4265 or