Speaker compares Dr. King’s dream as an antidote to disease of racism

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

The Rev. Steven G. Blunt assured his audience of nearly 800 people Monday morning that &uot;racism is still alive and well … but so is Dr. (Martin Luther) King’s dream and legacy.&uot;

During the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Nansemond River High School, Blunt inspired visible emotion with those words and other parts of his speech, &uot;The Ultimate and Definitive Price of Racism.&uot;

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Blunt said that King stated in his 1958 work entitled, &uot;Where Do We Go From Here?&uot; that &uot;racism is a contempt for life, an arrogant assertion that one race is the center of value and object of devotion before which other races must kneel in submission.&uot;

To this Blunt added the suggestion that &uot;it does us little good in the midst of our various professions, the diversities of our lifestyles and experiences, and the assortment of our particular exigencies in life if we fail to address and apprehend the reality of racism. It is because of our refutation and denial of the existence of racism that the very essence of racism has now gained a sense of immortality.&uot;

With that statement he acknowledged that because of America’s innate willingness to turn its blind eye to this atrocity, racism has now left humanity with a heavy price to pay which has provided the foundations for hatred, evil and oppression.

&uot;Regardless of where or when one attends school in America, he receives along with legitimate educational experiences, a dose of pure, unadulterated racism. Since the earliest days of this nation’s history, students attending its schools have achieved competence in the four – not three R’s – Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic and Racism. It is my contention today that amongst many others, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. represents our contemporary hero of Mt. Olympus and planet Earth.

&uot;Dr. King was not only divinely sent to champion the cause of freedom, justice, and equality for all, but also to galvanize the hearts and minds of two cultures historically set part from one another for the hope of slaying the Leviathan name Racism.&uot;

Blunt told of a crystallizing event for King that were personal and painful experiences. One of them was a moment that he shared with his oldest child, Yolanda. In a candid 1965 interview with &uot;Playboy,&uot; King exclaimed that Yolanda would inevitably say that she would like to go to Funtown (a miniature Disneyland), which would always leave him evading a direct reply. However, after a TV commercial was encouraging people to come to the location and Yolanda saw it, she came running downstairs insisting on going, King said that he had gained much applause as a public speaker, but admitted that his tongue twisted and his speech stammered while seeking to explain to his then 7-year-old daughter why the public invitation on TV did not include her and others like her.

Blunt also said that King stated it was one of the most painful experiences that he had ever faced because he realized that was the moment the first dark cloud of inferiority had floated into her little mental sky and her personality had begun to warp with that first unconscious bitterness toward white people. King said was the first time that prejudice based upon skin color had been explained to her.

He then gave examples of racism that included 11-year-old Denise McNair and her three 14-year-old friends who were killed when a bomb exploded in a church and other tragic examples of death during King’s fight for civil rights.

&uot;The ultimate and definitive price of racism is that it seeks to prepare the floodgates for the untimely demise of God’s children. It was only a matter of time before King himself would become a victim of the very creature he was sent to destroy,&uot; said Blunt.

Many audience members cheered when he explained that the assassin who killed King on April 4, 1968 only transcended him into a greater force against the cause of racism, and that King’s dream would only spread as if a serum had been injected into the infected areas of racism’s greatest victories, and had been targeted to be contained and quarantined would now flourish and would now be carried by the four winds of creation.

Blunt brought people to their feet with cheers and clapping with the following statement:

&uot;As long as there are those who are willing to stand up against injustice; as long there are those who dare to separate themselves from the distinction of privilege from prestige; and as long as there are those who are willing to allow God to lead them in their struggle for the equality of all people, then Dr. King’s dream shall never die.&uot;

Sylvia Bond, an instructor at Lakeland High School, said over 200 students entered the MLK Essay Contest this year. They wrote on the theme &uot;Making the Dream a Reality: Finding Meaning in Dr. King’s Message Today.&uot; The judges chose three honorable mentions, two second-place and two first-place winners. Winners are as follows:

Honorable Mentions – Jessica Estienne and Michelle Ricks, who are both freshmen at Lakeland High School and Melissa Snook, a junior, at Lakeland.

Second Place – Erin Clark, an eighth-grade student at King’s Fork Middle School; and Emily Brown, an 11th-grade student at Lakeland High School.

First Place – Gerica Goodman, an eighth-grade student at John F. Kennedy Middle School and Jean-Louis Bile’, an 11th-grade student at Lakeland High School. First-place winners also read their winning essays.

Judges were Bertha Turner, Susie Bennett and Amanda Rodgers.

Carolyn Harris, a representative from Suffolk Education Foundation accepted the &uot;I Have A Dream Award&uot; for 2004 from Alexander Blizzard, a representative from Disabled American Veterans, Suffolk Chapter 5. The (DAV) organization was the 2003 award recipient.

Others on the program were the NRHS Color Guard, Elder Gerald Goodman, Thomas McLemore, Helen Daughtrey, Lula Holland, Dr. Ruffin Alphin, and Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett.

Second Chance and Dr. Vaurice T. Chambers provided music and East End youth served as ushers.

Organizations and churches who gave $100 or more in support of the dream were East End Baptist Church, First Baptist Church, Mahan and the Nansemond-Suffolk Branch NAACP.

The 2004 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Committee members were Vanessa Savage, chairperson; Dorothy Brinkley, co-chairperson; Charles Christian, treasurer; Lula Holland, secretary; Sylvia Bond; W. Ross Boone; Harvey Clark; Mark Croston Sr.; Helen Daughtrey; Dorothy Rawles; and Bernice Vicillian.

Vanessa Savage and the committee would like to thank everyone who participated in any way and made the 2004 celebration a success.