King was a 'radical and visionary leader,' said one of the workshop speakers.



King was a 'radical and visionary leader,' said one of the workshop speakers.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The power of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life was that he inspired people to mobilize around a dream, and if the children of the Mahoning Valley are to secure its future, they need a vision, too, said the Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II.
The Rev. Mr. Macklin was co-convener with Rabbi Joel Berman of the Martin Luther King Planning Committee of the Mahoning Valley, which sponsored the 24th annual community workshop Monday celebrating King's life and legacy.
King, born Jan. 15, 1929, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his efforts to create a nation of equality rather than segregation. He was assassinated April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tenn., where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city. He was 39.
The local workshop, called "The Time is Always Right To Do What is Right," was conducted at First Presbyterian Church, 201 Wick Ave. The Timekeepers Drum Corps and Flagline started off the meeting with several rousing routines, and Jazmine Strothers, an eighth-grade pupil at Legacy Academy of the Arts, read an original poem, "Wake Up."
If the people of the Mahoning Valley are to achieve King's dream of a "beloved community," they must have a vision and work together toward its realization, said Mr. Macklin, pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church on the city's South Side.
Beyond his speech
The civil rights leader was an evangelical who believed deeply that Jesus was the savior and the way to salvation, said Kirk Noden, lead organizer for the local Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods (ACTION) and workshop keynote speaker. He wrote a thesis on the last two years of King's life.
King's definition of a "beloved community" is one that is integrated, socialist and inclusive, in that everyone is involved in the decision-making process; rooted in the parenthood of God, where people assume responsibility for each other and that any injustice done to one is an affront to God; and Christ-centered, Noden added.
He said it frustrates him that King is known by most people only for his "I Have A Dream" speech, because he was much more.
King was a "tremendous intellectual and radical and visionary leader," who in his later years said that the United States was the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, that the white Christian church is more white than Christian and that blacks need power, Noden said.
Children
Black children need to understand that black history began 4.5 million years ago, not with the advent of slavery in the United States, said Jimma McWilson, executive director of Youth & amp; Family Empowerment Group here.
If young blacks are to "disconnect" from the impact of slavery, they need to know that their history, and the genesis of the human family, began on the continent of Africa, as did language and mathematics, McWilson continued.
Saying that it is critically important that the community publicly support education, McWilson charged that the public school system in his country was deliberately designed to keep American Indians and blacks ignorant and to create a caste system.
"We have to restore hope and vision for Youngstown in our children. I believe change is going to come to Youngstown. All we have to do is give them [the children] a dream," said Andrea Mahone, youth director for Youngstown.
But, she said, "You can't offer hope to anybody else unless you have it yourself."
"We have to turn our attention to our young people ... and teach them to value education," said the Rev. William J. Blake, director of student diversity at Youngstown State University.
The time is right for us to do the right thing, said the Rev. Mr. Blake, who also is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Windham.
"We need to give young people the tools and vision to help them make changes. The enemy is all the elements within our society that get in the way of the success of our children," Mr. Blake said.
The turnaround of Youngstown means investing in our youth, said the Rev. Kenneth L. Simon, chairman of the workshop planning committee.
Work's not done
Some 40 years after King's death, "we still need hope and a dream," said the Rev. Mr. Simon, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, also on the South Side.
"And while others sat around and talked, Martin Luther King engaged himself in the face of criticism, some from black leaders, and took risks to be an instrument of change," he said.
Like King, "we need to leave this workshop not just informed and inspired, but willing to get engaged to make a difference in our own community," Mr. Simon added.
Besides several speakers, the workshop also featured a panel discussion with Edna Pincham, founder and executive director of the Pincham Initiative Center, Youngstown; Maureen Drummond, program director of Volunteer Services Agency, Boardman; Noden; and McWilson.
alcorn@vindy.com

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