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Being a light means being a leader

“I believe there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow...”

These were the words uttered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Just last month, many individuals in our country paused on January 15 to observe the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.

Dr. King was a servant of the people. Many individuals found several ways to serve others on that day. Some of the students attending the University of North Alabama packed food bags for those in need. Dr. King’s question to the people of his time is still relevant today: “What are you doing for others?”

Several from Franklin County attended the 27th annual Martin Luther King Unity Breakfast hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Dr. Roderick Sheppard, president of Kappa Nu Lambda Chapter, said that the Unity Breakfast shows that communities can come together for a common cause. We gather to celebrate Dr. King’s life, sacrifices and leadership, as stated in his welcome.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King in Memphis, Tennessee. Eric Jalen Kirkman, youth speaker, urged the youth to be a light in the school and community. Being a light is choosing to be a leader. As a leader, it is very important to know how to love, because love can drive out darkness. Kirkman challenged the youth to not only dream but to dream big and to want a better tomorrow.

In closing, Kirkman reminded us that the eyes of the youth are watching us. His question to all adults was, “What will you teach us?” Jalen, 14, is Student Council president of the ninth-grade class at the Florence Freshman Center. He is the son of Drs. Eric and Tera Kirkman.

Rev. Clinton Johnson, Sr. of Mobile spoke on the topic, “The Moment We Have is Now.” The future is in front of us, the past is behind us, and what we have is a NOW moment. To do, to achieve, to engage…that time is NOW.

It is our time to give a hand and not point a finger; we have not reached our destination, so we must keep working. The servant Dr. King is dead, but the Lord of the servant is alive. You can never move forward by looking back; all we have before us is right now. Life is like a relay. Pass on the baton.

The next generation of young people must be prepared and ready to step in when we step out, so the fight for justice can continue and the challenges can be overcome. Some need to carry on the message of hope and the message to get involved. Also, Rev. Johnson told us to value the work and dignity of every individual.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968) became a civil rights advocate early in his career as a Baptist minister. Although his life was cut short, King left a legacy of hope and inspiration that continues to influence people today.

In 1955 he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In 1963, during the March on Washington, he delivered his now famous “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he expressed hope that people would not be judged by their skin color.

King showed the world that people could wage a struggle without resorting to violence. For those efforts, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

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