My Turn, Evelyn Uddin-khan: Post MLK — achieving a beloved community
Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 22, 2023
By Evelyn Uddin-khan
The messages were clear. The messages were color blind. Now, we begin the hard work.
All across the US, Dr. Martin Luther King was remembered and his words, work and mission were reiterated by lots of people in churches and public celebrations.
Salisbury, our little corner of the country, was right up there with the best of what we had to offer. Yes, we had a parade. But the best part was at the Civic Center. On Saturday, parents and their children received Food Lion gift cards and backpacks filled with school supplies. All organized by the Human Relations Council (HRC).
On Monday, the HRC hosted the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Breakfast, which was attended by over 300 people.
Mayor Karen Alexander was there, and so were Gene Fuller, vice president of Food Lion; Dr. Anthony Davis, president of Livingstone College; Greg Edds, chair of Rowan County Board of Commissioners; Father Robert Black of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church; and many other well know public figures from Salisbury. Rev. Debra Ellison presided.
The speeches were great, the promises made and most important, there were an abundance of food and camaraderie among the guests.
Now, we begin the hard work.
The Human Relations Council in the last few months has put together a plan for “Achieving A Beloved Community.” Many speakers addressed and embraced this theme. Yes, the HRC is also dreaming of a community where love flourishes and inequities disappear.
They have their work cut out for them. We have homeless people, women and children in shelters, food pantries that must be replenished daily, juveniles in trouble, and this is only a partial list of our worries.
Our mayor acknowledged these areas of need and fully supports the HRC in its efforts, and in going forward with these plans.
What we need is people power, feet on the ground to help solve these human problems.
Two years ago, I suggested we get college students involved in some of these projects. For extra credit, or better grades, or field experience in their areas of studies, many students would be willing to give a bit of their time to a project that would broaden their knowledge and experience in fields such as social programs, outreach programs for adolescents, teaching and nursing.
In the Salisbury area, there are four colleges and universities. We have Pfeiffer, Livingstone, Catawba and Rowan-Cabarrus. The resources that we need (in addition to city and county support and money) are walking and breathing on those four campuses. They are called college students.
Not all would be interested and willing to participate, but it is quite possible that a number of them, given the idea, would be willing to make a commitment.
“Achieving A Beloved Community” is not a dream. It can be a reality if the HRC, the city of Salisbury, the colleges and Rowan County come together and begin the work to end shelters and starvation in our “beloved Community.”
One hopes some — most — of the people who were at the Civic Center on Monday for the celebration breakfast, take it one step further and help to make our small and thriving part of the world become “A Beloved Community.”
Congratulations to the members of the Human Relations Council for a job well done!
Now, let the hard work begin.
Evelyn Uddin-khan moved to Salisbury in 2018 after living in the New York City area for most of her life. She taught in public schools and for a community college in the New York City area.