Obama's inauguration on King's birthday a symbol of civil rights leader's dream
Hagerstown Community College hosts Diversity Celebration
Matthew Murray, 17, sings at the Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Celebration held at the Kepler Theater on the HCC campus (By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer / January 21, 2013)
“It’s amazing just how far we have come as a society,” said Gloria Murray, who was attending the Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Celebration with her husband Nickey and children Matthew, Marqus, Nicole and Michael.
“It’s exciting because my kids have an opportunity to see this,” she said.
“It’s a tradition for us to come here,” Marqus said of the celebration. His mother said the family has been attending the event since moving to this area more than nine years ago.
“It makes me feel like African-American people have come a long way,” said 17-year-old Aaron McFarland. The speeches King gave and the marches he led brought about change in this country through his dream,” he said.
“The actuality of the dream ... was witnessed when Barack Obama was elected the first African-American President of the United States on Nov. 5, 2008, transcending centuries of inequality in America” the Rev. Darin Mency said in the keynote address.
“This epic moment in our nation’s history comes by standing on the shoulders of previous successful politicians,” Mency said, listing Frederick Douglass, the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and the late Senator Edward Brooke among them.
Mency, who also delivered King’s iconic “I have a Dream” speech, also warned about threats to King’s dream.
“When I think about threats to the Dream, it brings me back to how we have forgotten God and the foundational principles of our Constitution,” Mency said.
Mency spoke of the “blatant immorality in government bodies,” human trafficking, mass killings, and people remembering the civil rights movement but forgetting “the content of the message.”
The pastor of Greater Campher Temple in Hagerstown, Mency also lamented, “the lockup of African-American and Hispanic men occurring at alarming rates, which takes away another vote, brings taxes down, and the inability to be a positive role model for their children.”
“We must repair the foundation this country was built upon,” Mency said.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is not a religious holiday, nor one for poor people or minorities, or for shopping, Hagerstown Community College President Guy Altieri told the assembly of about 200 people. It is a holiday based on the nation’s most important values, he said.
“Peace,” 8-year-old Karissa Ingram of Atlanta, Ga., said when asked what King meant to her. Karissa said she came with a group from the Hagerstown YMCA and had watched President Obama’s second inauguration on television.
Along with musical and dance performances and poetry readings, the event also featured a 10th anniversary video of previous diversity celebrations at the college.