SOUTH HOLLAND | A south suburban pastor on Monday told the audience at an event honoring slain civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. the best way blacks can pay tribute to King is by making the most of their lives.
Bishop Lance Davis, of Dolton-based New Zion Covenant Church, said he believes too many people today are willing to accept the concept of black people failing in life. Thereby, success by blacks winds up being a benefit.
“He thought we could do better. He felt we could do better. He believed we could do better,” Davis said of King, during the annual Thornton Township King tribute held at South Suburban College.
“How come we don’t do better than this?” asked Davis, who wants more young blacks to try to achieve professional goals in life. “We need to have the highest aspirations. We shouldn’t want to be Snoop Dog, or Snoop Lion or Snoop-something,” alluding to the rap music performer.
Davis told a crowd packed into the college’s Kindig Performing Arts Center that too many young black people give in to the temptation of the streets because their parents do not take a hard enough line in dealing with their children.
He said the reason he eventually became a pastor, rather than a drug dealer from Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, was because of his parents' influence.
“I was more afraid of my parents’ disapproval than that of the Gangster Disciples or the Vice Lords,” Davis said.
He also acknowledged having friends while growing up who later got into illicit activities.
“They became just what the politicians expect us to become,” said Davis.
Davis’ talk capped off a two-hour program performed largely by students of Thornwood High School, along with Thornton High in Harvey and Thornridge High in Dolton.
The program included bits such as a reading by Thornwood speech team member Kayla Seawood from Baratunde Thurston’s book, “How to be Black,” and a one-act play titled “The Mountaintop” by Katori Hall performed by Thornridge students Tiera Sterling and Corey Jackson.
The play is a fictional account of King’s last night of life as he comes to realize the significance of what he achieved, and the direction he set our society on with his work in life.
Davis himself said he particularly enjoyed the latter performance. “It reminds us that King was a real man, and not just an ideal,” he said.
Although Davis said people also should remember the protest march King led through Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood on Aug. 5, 1966 – the one in which white residents of the neighborhood hurled objects at the protesters and King was hit in the head with a brick.
“Only a visionary will take a brick to the head to make life better for you,” he said.