SOUTH HOLLAND | They came together to remember and celebrate the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
But everyone who spoke reminded the audience that getting involved was the key to sharing and extending King’s message of peace and equality.
The eighth annual Martin Luther King Memorial was held Saturday morning at Calvary Community Church in South Holland. Members of the village government, local colleges and several community churches led residents in a celebration of King’s legacy.
Pamela Stallings, the chair of the 2013 event committee, talked about the events of the last year and how they affected her work.
“There has been a tremendous amount of pain, suffering and violence in the last year,” she said. “That is true locally, nationally and worldwide. What that tells me is that we all need to strengthen our resolve to do more to spread Dr. King’s legacy, to do more to spread the message of hope and peace.”
“If anything,” Stallings said, “these tragedies make me even more determined to act more in my community and get more involved.”
Arthur Burton, a professor at South Suburban College, shared his personal story of attending a speech King gave in Chicago.
“I was young at the time,” Burton said. “But I distinctly remembered two things. The first was his voice. Dr. King had a voice that sounded like it came down from the heavens. It was impossible to listen to him speak and not be moved. He was the most powerful speaker I ever heard.
“The second thing I remember was the message he gave that day. Dr. King said that the only way things would change is if the people got involved. People needed to register to vote. People needed to learn the issues and vote accordingly. And people needed to volunteer in the communities, at schools, in government. People need to get involved.”
Burton then challenged everyone attending the memorial.
“Be the peace you wish to see,” Burton said. “That’s a quote from Dr. King. But to be that peace, you have to be out of the house and in the community. Volunteer, and then volunteer some more.”
Two groups of South Holland students made presentations in a play format, and both hit on the theme of getting involved.
Pastor Alfonzo Surrett commented that in order for a family to spread the word of peace and forgiveness, they needed to remember that they were a family of God.
“It is no accident that God is at the center of Dr. King’s work,” Surrett said. “He was a pastor, a preacher and a reacher.”
Village President Don De Graff spoke to the audience at the end of the memorial.
“This is the essence of who we are,” De Graff said. “This is the essence of who we are supposed to be, and who we strive to be. We need to remember Dr. King’s life and legacy. We need to remember he acted, he went out and did. We need to think about tomorrow, and what we can actively do to forward his message of peace and equality. Dr. King was a servant. We need to be servants who continue to spread the word.”