Reflections on MLK March and Celebration

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

There was no shortage of participation on an environmentally inviting day for the Martin Luther King March and Commemorative Convocation. Thousands attended. For many, the Celebration started at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church. Many groups and organizations were on hand to participate. The church appropriately provided a job fair, which included the likes of companies like Crackle Barrel, Dailey’s, Lab Four Professional Development, Building Nashville, and Combined Insurance. There was also a presentation and in depth discussion on immigration and the death penalty. These were welcomed and informative additions to educating the community. There was also a large presence from the Hispanic community, helping to realize Martin’s dream of racial unity.

I personally missed having the youth program that in recent years preceded the march at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church. I felt that it engaged more youth and gave them a sense of ownership in personally contributing and celebrating King’s legacy. We must never forget that it is the youth that carry the hope and promise of the dream, and we must make every effort possible to encourage their participation and involvement. I was happy to see that many churches had their youth groups involved in the march and at the convocation. An added plus was the involvement of youth at the Commemorative Convocation. There was no shortage of youth talent as well: from song, creative dance, poetry, and speaking. One of the speakers was a young 22-year-old promising preacher, entrepreneur, and mentor from Nashville, Minister Brandon J. Smithson.

I feel the elder speaker, Professor Gloria Haugabook Mckissack, did an outstanding job delivering her message. She eloquently acknowledged those who toiled the storm to make this moment possible and gave the audience a sense of the pain, suffering and sacrifices made to make it better for all—especially our children. She said you have to go to other cities such as Selma, Birmingham, Memphis, and Montgomery to see and learn about the leading role Nashville played in the Civil Rights Movement—eluding that it is inexcusable and unacceptable that Nashville does not have a Civil Rights Museum and is literally an insult to the ministers, high school and college students, Freedom Riders and others here who played a pivotal role in the movement. She stressed that this must be remedied. Professor Mckissack passed the torch and gave the young generation a mandate, a challenge to continue the dream for justice and equality by becoming activists. It was symbolic with Minister Smithson and others in the audience accepting the challenge. Smithson was articulate and inspiring, offering a four-point plan to help attain the prize.

I was quite pleased with the March and celebration because I had previous reservations about the event being upstaged with speakers and platform guests promoting themselves and diluting the real purpose of the celebration. I applaud those playing a major role in organizing the celebration, especially the Interdenom-inational Ministers’ Fellowship (IMF) and Tennessee State University. The Planning and Implementation Comm-ittee are to be commended for an outstanding job. Martin would be proud. I left feeling one step closer to realizing the Dream and energized to do my share to bring about its fruition.

Thank You Martin
by William T. Robinson Jr.

Thank you Martin Luther King, the world misses you so.
The fight you led against discrimination and segregation, helped our nation grow.
Destined to fight the vestiges of racism, hatred, and gloom,
Only to make an exit from this world, so quick and way too soon.

Refusing to adhere to practices that treated you less than a man,
You rallied for oppressed people, to get off their knees and stand.
Violence and hate were tools, you never used in your arsenal.
You knew that with unconditional love, that victory was possible.

However hard and painful, the struggle you had to endure,
You kept your movement clean and righteous, that time would claim as pure,
Leading a movement that with God’s blessing would be victorious and prevail
To fight with love and clean hearts, against the gates of hell.

A soldier for justice and righteousness, you inspired others to follow as you led the way,
What greater sacrifice to give the world, than with your life you pay.
So time will forever honor your memory, for the hate and injustice you fought,
And heaven above is now your new home that your spilled blood on Earth has bought.

You made a significant difference, bringing people to unite and join hands
Regardless of the threats from heartless malicious forces, with self serving plans.
In the end, the world is a better place for everyone to live:
You showed the world it’s not what you say, but in what you’re willing to give.

Time will forever hold you in its bosom, for the ultimate sacrifice you paid.
But better yet, you’ll be remembered, by true progress that is made.
A legend for the entire world to emulate, because it was you that helped set the pace

That one day, we can all sit at the table to break bread, as one united race.

Thank you Martin.