Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is still alive and well in Central Kansas. Salinans gathered to celebrate the civil rights pioneer’s life and legacy Sunday afternoon at Kansas Wesleyan University.
KWU President Dr. Matthew Thompson said that it was appropriate that the event was held in Sam’s Chapel at the Hall of Pioneers on the college’s campus. As he introduced featured speaker Wes Jackson, Thompson said that King was a pioneer in many ways.
Jackson, a Kansas Wesleyan University graduate and founder of the internationally known and respected Land Institute, spoke about seeing Dr. King speak at an event in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1967. “He was fearless” speaking to a large crowd that included members of the Ku Klux Klan Jackson said. Just 20 months later Jackson was in New York City, and was in a hushed Times Square when he learned about King’s Death. “Dr. King knew that war, racism, and poverty” were all a part of the same fight Jackson said.
Jackson also spoke about racism righ here at home. He recalled his days as a student at KWU in the 1950s, as a member of the football team. He said that there were at least two occasions when the entire team walked out of a restaurant that refused to serve a black player.
The celebration included performances by the Kansas Wesleyan University Choir. Salina Mayor Aaron Householter read a proclamation, and Salina Central High School student Tre’Von Cooper recited a portion of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
The event ended with several students from Kansas Wesleyan University and Brown-Mackie College reciting a prayer in multiple languages, followed by the entire congregation linking crossed arms and singing “We Shall Overcome”.
The Sunday afternoon celebration was the marquee event of a week of activities in Salina dedicated to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
On Monday, a community-wide service will be held at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church, 215 S. Chicago, beginning at 12 noon.