Capt. John Sanders, NMRC commanding officer, opened the program by acknowledging the importance of the celebration and reflecting on his memories of King and what the civil rights movement meant to our county. He focused on King’s messages of opportunity, dignity and excellence.
“We all have to have the opportunity to be successful. Dr. King taught us that dignity is not something given to us from other people but something that comes from within, because it has been bestowed on us from above. What he taught is that we should demonstrate that dignity with the excellence of our actions and our character,” said Sanders.
Following Sander’s comments, the audience saw a video clip of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
The guest speaker, William T. Fauntroy, Jr., a Tuskegee Airman, is a member of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., where he first met Dr. King. Fauntroy, with humor, thoughtfulness and sincerity, shared his memories and experiences of growing up in D.C.; the March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963; and the need to keep the dream alive. He summarized Kings’ civil rights efforts and assassination, April 4, 1968.
Fauntroy said he was there at the March on Washington when King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Members of New Bethel Baptist Church got together and walked from the church to the National Monument. He said he had never seen that many people in one location at one time. The only place they weren’t sitting or standing was in the pool, he added.
“Meeting him, I can say Martin Luther King was a person you would always remember. He was a man of God. He was true to what he said he was. He helped a lot of people. He changed a lot of hearts and minds, not all, but many. I’m so glad God let me meet and touch this man. Martin always talked about love and nonviolence. I recommend to you to read his book of sermons, “Strength to Love,” written in 1963,” said Fauntroy.
Fauntroy ended by reading from King’s book.
The event was hosted by the WRAIR/NMRC Multicultural Committee.