Smiling, hugging and remembering, not focused on the past but on the future.
Inside of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church Monday, guest speaker Dr. G.V. Clark stood before the congregation to honor Martin Luther King Jr.
“There are a lot of memories tied to this kind of engagement, this kind of involvement,” said the pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Austin.
“It is tender in places.
“It is heavy in moments.”
He spoke calmly. His baritone voice didn’t echo, didn’t bellow.
But it seemed to stretch further than it should to reach the ears of even those sitting in the back of the church.
“I look out upon us and see children and young people who have no inkling of what this is about.
“That kind of saddens me, because a lot of lives have been spent in efforts to get us where we are, and every one of us here knows without a doubt that the dream is not realized.
“Sometimes I think it is better. Sometimes I think it has regressed.”
He cited a lack of national media attention to this day—on this holiday 50 years after Dr. King gave his famous speech in Washington.
Clark said that he sees things changing and not all for the good of mankind.
“A couple of years ago I sat in a committee meeting, where there was action being taken of whether or not to put the Confederate flag on the license plate of Texas.
“The thought that comes to my mind is, ‘Why should that be a discussion?’
“‘Why should that be a question?’
“In my younger years I could drive through areas of Texas where that flag was displayed, and I was afraid to drive through there because of what that flag represents.
“Yet, there are powers in the state of Texas that feel it ought to be displayed on the license plates of Texas.”
Speaking also was County Judge David Silva, who reminded that those present must not forget why they are celebrating this day.
“It doesn’t seem possible that it is 50 years since Dr. King stood up in Washington Mall and gave that speech,” he said.
“I remember vaguely seeing it in the news, the thousands of people in the mall and Dr. King’s important words being spoken.
“I tell my classes we don’t often know where traditions begin.
“We know where this one begins.
“But after a generation or two goes by, we tend to remember maybe this is the day we should do this, but we forget why we are doing this.
“We must keep the dream alive.
“For if one person is enslaved or discriminated against, then all of us are discriminated against.”
Mayor David Carabajal, who also spoke during Beeville’s 25th anniversary march, said, “We as Americans are grateful to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who had the courage to dream of a better tomorrow.”
“He dreamed of a beautiful tomorrow consisting of equality and justice for all. A dream not consisting of self-want but a dream for all Americans to be able to live free in a country free from injustice and free from inequality.”
The mayor added, “So let us not forget the unfinished work that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so nobly initiated.
“Let us be dedicated to the unfinished case for liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans.
“Through his dream this nation will experience a new birth and the true meaning of freedom.”
Clark posed the question to the dozens of people inside the church of whether they were willing to do their part and humbly work toward the betterment of man.
“God is still looking for someone who will move the dream to another level.
“The question is, ‘Will you do it?’”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.