Celebrating King’s legacy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2017

On the day after what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 88th birthday, nearly 90 people gathered in Opp to remember his sacrifices and triumphs as he paved the way to racial equality for Americans.

The day’s event started at the intersection of Hart Avenue and Main Street.

Opp Mayor Becky Bracke spoke to the crowd saying she didn’t know of anyone who did as much for Civil Rights as Dr. King.

“He lost his life for his dream,” she said. “He gave you the freedom to be whatever you want to be and do whatever you want to.”

She encouraged the crowd to set high goals and move forward.

“As mayor of Opp, Ala., I need you,” she said. “God sent Dr. King to fulfill a purpose.”

Councilman Gary Strickland said that Dr. King was real big on love.

The crowd marched down Main Street to Cummings Avenue and down Hardin Street to the monument at the ball court.

There, the Rev. John Lawrence said that overcoming never stops and that everyone should live a life of an overcomer.

“If you please God, you will be an overcomer,” he said.

The crowd moved down to New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on Barnes Street for the service.

The Rev. Davy Lindsey spoke briefly from John Chapter 8.

“So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believe Him, ‘If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘ You will become free?’

“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I saw to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the son make you free, you will be free indeed.”

“We are free indeed,” Lindsey said.

The Rev. Jimmy Jackson of Promise Land Ministry in Troy said he was so glad that Jesus would go all the way to glory for everyone.

Jackson spoke from John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Jackson said that some didn’t go through the same trials and tribulations other Civil Rights leaders did.

Jackson said that Rep. John Lewis is still fighting.

“He’s still pushing back,” he said.

Jackson said the Rev. Jesse Jackson told them that they have to keep the hope alive.

Jackson said the Devil had him, but he got away.

“Rosa Parks got tired of moving to the back of the bus,” he said.

Jackson said Civil Rights leaders had some white folks in their corner as well.

“Virginia Foster (Durr), she stood up against the Southern white male,” he said.

Durr and her husband, Clifford, a lawyer, helped civil rights leader E.D. Nixon bail Parks out of a Montgomery jail.

Parks’ action began the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Durr was also the founding member of the interracial Southern Conference for Human Welfare, which opposed segregation.

Jackson encouraged those gathered to give their battles to the Lord.

“God will fight our battles,” he said.

Jackson said a lot of people, “put their life on the line for us to be in the same schools and drink from the same water fountain.”

Jackson quotes lines from King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Jackson said the Bible says that God is no respecter of persons, and is always on the side of righteousness.

“Remember you are somebody,” Jackson said. “(Dr. King) looked forward to the day when people where not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Jackson told those gathered that it’s not how people look at you, but rather how you look back.

“It’s not the actions, but the reaction,” he said. “You stay in character. If you can’t say anything good, keep it to yourself. Young folks, keep your character.”

Jackson also sent a message to parents.

“The school can’t raise our children,” he said. “We have to teach them at home. We have to teach them character at home.

“We have young boys and girls still dreaming. Let them know they can make it with the help of Jesus,” he said.