Education is the key to fulfilling the dream of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Columbus minister told more than 50 people in the Mahoning County Courthouse rotunda, at the annual memorial observance for the slain civil rights leader.
“If we want to perpetuate the dream of Dr. King, it has to begin in the classrooms,” said the Rev. Dr. Lloyd Martin, chief education officer of the Columbus-based National Center for Urban Solutions.
Mr. Martin spoke Thursday at the memorial service for Dr. King, which is sponsored by the Baptist Pastors’ Council of Youngstown.
The observance coincided with the 45th anniversary of the April 4, 1968, assassination of Dr. King in Memphis, Tenn. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s Aug. 28, 1963, “I Have a Dream’ speech in Washington, D.C.
“Without a high-quality education, our children will not be able to compete in a global marketplace,” Mr. Martin said.
“We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us,” he told the crowd.
Mr. Martin lamented that some people check regularly on the status of their financial affairs, but not on the schooling of their children.
Some people “never stop by to see about our most valuable asset” — their children attending school, he said.
Mr. Martin said he plans to open the Academy of Urban Scholars in Youngstown this fall as a tuition-free charter school to further the education of those who may have dropped out of school. A high school bearing the same name operates in Columbus.
“It’s time for us to step outside of the pulpit and start pulling people from the pit of destruction,” he exhorted his fellow ministers in the audience. “We have to change our young people from hopeless to hopeful.”
Honored during the ceremony were the 2012 recipients of the pastors’ council’s Testament of Hope Scholarship: Ryan Allen, Micalise Feagins, Eve Griffin and LaQuesha Lewis. The Testament of Hope is a fully-endowed Youngstown State University scholarship.
The Rev. Kenneth L. Simon, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, said Dr. King’s legacy needs to be uplifted by confronting current challenges to civil rights.
“The right to vote is being challenged” by efforts to suppress voter turnout, he said.
“Workers’ rights are being challenged. We need justice in our education, in employment, in the political arena, health care and the judicial system, so the fight for justice continues,” he said.