Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association presents 23rd annual banquet honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Joshua Waddles
Staff Writer

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association presented the 23rd annual banquet in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. This year’s theme was “United in Hope, Standing for Justice.”

During the events, students from the Malvern School District, winners of an essay contest, read their essays in front of the visitors.

Dr. Kim Armstrong announced the recipient of a College of the Ouachitas scholarship. Armstrong said the first scholarship recipient graduated and the second recipient has one year to go.

Keynote speaker Dr. Lewis A. Shepherd Jr. quoted Charles Dickens and said we are living in the best of times and the worst of times. It’s the best of times, he said, because America now has many African American CEOs and business owners. But 27 percent of African Americans live below the poverty line, compared to 11 percent of America’s population in general.

Shepherd said he’s concerned for the 21st century family because of a tripod of problems: lack of education, high crime and poverty. He said there’s been a serious shift in the nuclear family and education has been on the decline. For every 10 dropouts, said Shepherd, six go to the Department of Corrections. He said African Americans make up 10 percent of the United States population but 40 percent of the prison population.

“We must get people educated to raise the standard of living,” said Shepherd.

When the situation of minorities was worse than it is today, said Shepherd, one man declared the dawn of a new day. “That was Martin Luther King,” said Shepherd. He said King followed the teachings of Jesus Christ and the philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi. He said King’s legacy exists because he believed deeply in nonviolence and he believed that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

When King was assassinated, a hand-written note was found quoting Gandhi: “In the midst of death, life persists. In the midst of untruth, truth persists. In the midst of darkness, light persists.”

Shepherd said King died trying to be the voice of those who could not speak. He said he never asked anyone to do anything he was not willing to do himself. After winning the Nobel Prize, he gave every dime of that to civil rights causes, an amount that would be about $430,000 adjusted for inflation. Shepherd said King was always at the front of marches and protests.


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