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Published:January 26th, 2008 15:53 EST
King's spirit continues to live on at U of M-Dearborn

King's spirit continues to live on at U of M-Dearborn

By Garrett Godwin

“What will happen to Humanity if I don’t help?”

                                                         -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

DEARBORN, MI:  Like Reverend King, Stanley Henderson wanted to tear down barriers.  However, in the Second Annual MLK Noon Day Observance on January 22, he wanted the audience to break the ice by getting them to shake hands with the person sitting next to, or two chairs.  “We are a community here at the University of Michigan,” the Vice President of EMSL proclaimed.

From Noon until -1:30 pm at the Kochoff Hall inside the University Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the event was part of the school’s week-long memorial tribute to the civil rights advocate.  “It is a way to honor Dr. King and keep his dream alive,” according to Shareia Carter, the program coordinator of the Woman Resource Center, who presented it.

It has been two years since Jonathan Smith’s mother passed away, and the way for him to commemorate Dr. King’s memory by honoring his mother as well as the lesson he learned from her. 

As a child, Smith and his family lived in Chicago during the 1960s, where it was “a time of great turmoil."  King’s assassination on April 4, 1968 led him to ask his parents why a man who is speaking of peace and brotherhood was  attacked.  While growing up, Smith, now an Associate Dean of College of Arts, Sciences, & Letters (CASL), saw his parents treating others with dignity and respect– no matter who they were or where they were from.  “It was a powerful lesson,” he said, "because it was a time of reminding oneself of King’s lessons from a personal level.”   

Martin Luther King, Jr. was 39 years old when he died, almost the same age as School of Management (SOM) Assistant Professor Crystal Scott.  Though thankful to speak at the observance, Smith was told that she had 3-5 minutes; but, she wasn’t sure what to say because the topic is so personal to her.  Inspired by Dr. King, Scott persevered. What also inspired her is his Christian principles and willingness to stand up for nonviolence despite the overwhelming odds against him.

“He [King] had courage,” she said, “because he was willing to pursue peace and justice, no matter what.”  Smith also said that King had “the gift of oratory” and a “heart full of grace,” willing to speak to people and lead them into “the movement” called civil rights, causing others to break out of their comfort zone and think outside the box, as well as think outside civil rights for black people, and causing others to believe that everyone has gifts to use for the benefit of others.

Ahmad Rahman discovered in his research that the media, the government and black leaders all denounced King for speaking against the Vietnam War, calling it unjust and giving America the image of a bully.  How can they [black and white people] fight for the United States, King questions, but not co-exist in their neighborhood?  The NAACP and several ministries also denounced him, and there were rumors for years that the FBI launched an investigation against King to prevent the rise of a “black Messiah.” 

Rahman, who teaches African-American History at UM-Dearborn, said that there is always a repetition of King’s 1963 legendary “I Have a Dream” speech every year, so the professor decided to do something at the observatory with the last speech King did a week before his death in 1968 called “Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution”. 

King stated in his speech that he slept through a great revolution involving science and technology … and so have we.  “We aren’t making the world a place for brotherhood.”

He continues by saying that the right-wingers tell us that “only time will solve all problems such as racism,” but this is a “myth because time is neutral” because “time is against us because it involves social stagnation,” and we must now repent for our silence and waiting on time, rededicating ourselves as co-workers of God.

People see King as “a wimpy leader,” according to Rahman, but the only way to truly know him isn’t researching the Martin Luther King of 1963, but the Martin Luther King of 1967 and 1968.  “[I guarantee that] you’ll see a change.” he concluded.  “There are no voices like the Rev. Al Sharpton that are as strong as Dr. King.”  

More than 500 people volunteered on the MLK Day of Service on January 21, which was “uplifting,” said Abdullateef Muhiuddin, “because it shows how much people care.” 

However, though it has been almost four decades since Dr. King’s death, he left a legacy that lives within each of us because, according to Muhiuddin, King was and still is the “voice of representatives.”

“We must be heroes in our own way” the Student Government President stated.  “It is time to go hunting.  We will break the silence and we shall overcome, and I hope you do the same.  It is time to hunt injustice.”