• Tue. Feb 7th, 2023

Martin Luther King Jr. events celebrate life, legacy of rights icon

Cincinnatians braved the frigid temperatures Monday to participate in the Memorial Walk to commemorate the life and legacy of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The march began at the Freedom Center, proceeded to Fountain Square, and then on to Music Hall. Some of the events held on Martin Luther King Day are featured in this edition. Photo by Whitney Dixon/Pixxel Designs

By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald


Martin Luther King Jr. Day events in Cincinnati paid proper respects to the legacy of the Civil Rights icon with speeches, awards ceremonies, entertainment and other celebrations. However, it was not without attention also being brought to the fact that 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the origin of slavery in America at the 1619 founding of the British colony at Jamestown, Virginia, and its subsequent period of slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation and other push backs African Americans have endured. Several speakers said 2019 is time to put an end to racism in the country and called on all Americans to work on this.

Courtis Fuller, a local TV newsman, presided at three of the events Monday, reminding guests that King would have been 90 years old this month. “King once said shortly before he was assassinated 51 years ago that if a person lives to be 90 and does not speak up, it is as if he died earlier in his life. For the young people in the audience today, we are passing the torch to you, for we have not passed the finish line. As evidenced by recent events, a lot of hate still exists in our country today. We will have to show you young people what love is, for love is the foundation of everything.’’

Dr. Holly McGee, an assistant professor of history at the University of Cincinnati, noted it has been 55 years since King delivered his “I Have a Dream’’ speech. However, McGee said we still are not free, and this includes a woman who threatened her at a local condominium where she was house sitting because she was Black.

“She is not free, either,’’ McGee said while speaking at the 2019 King Legacy Breakfast at the Freedom Center. “It is just so closed-minded and ignorant. So, all I wanted was sensitivity training for the employees at the building…and I got it.

“We still have work to do, so stop worrying about changing the world, but about changing your life. We have to create the opportunities. So, young people, do not squander our purpose, and one day we will be satisfied, and you will have a hand in that.’’

The Rev. Derek Terry, pastor of St. Peter’s United Church in Christ in Cincinnati, told guests at the Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition at Music Hall that, “For generations in our 400-year story in America, we have kept our people alive by wearing masks. That includes 250 years of slavery, 90 years of Jim Crow, 60 years of housing and school segregation, police abuses, and stealing our economic assets, he said.

“Since 20 Africans landed in Jamestown 400 years ago, the labor of millions of Blacks has been exploited, Blacks have been written off, and genocide was okay for the purpose of making America great.’’

Today, Terry said, African Americans are heirs of the same advantages this country offers to all of its citizens. “It is up to us to thank our ancestors for who we are. It’s time for us to clean up the mess we did not make. I say that we say ‘No more,’ that, ‘It stops with us.’ ’’

Pastor Terry’s full speech can be found here.

Photos of McGee and Terry appear in the B section of this edition.