MUNSTER | Perhaps it was his crying daughter in her mother's lap, the images of the Memphis Hotel or the nation hysterically mourning his tragic death on television. Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy still resonates in the hearts and minds of many. On the weekend before his holiday, community members reflect upon the man and his dream.
"It makes me think of the significance he had on me as a small child. I was eight years old and watched the funeral on television and identifying with his daughter who had her head on her mother's lap and I kept thinking that must be something to have your father pass. From learning about his life and legacy, even as an eight-year old, I was impacted as a young adult and even now. It has really had a vast influence on how I think, about my commitment to the community, responsibility to serve and how I govern. There are so many people that need so many things. Especially in a city like ours, faced with so many challenges. His belief that every individual has a value and could contribute to the good in society and take those beliefs and share them and to apply them to how I approach government has allowed me to serve my people well-or to the best of my ability.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, City of Gary
"I remember as a child, my mother used to take me to Operation Bread Basket, that is what it was called then, eventually to turn into Rainbow PUSH. I would hear all these good speakers. I remember a great sadness. My mother and grandmother would emphasize-'Always have a Dream.' King had passion and the little glimpse and image I have of him having that dream that all people can come together and move forward."
Vanessa Allen, Executive Director, Urban League of Northwest Indiana
"When I look at footage, because I was a mere child, I could put the power and heartfelt emotion that he had behind his words. Dr. King is the exemplification of love and humility. When all things are chaotic around you and you are in an atmosphere of hate, he would personify love. His focus was love because he knew it would transform us. That's what Martin Luther King, Jr. means to me."
Mayor Anthony Copeland, City of East Chicago
"Dr. King has impacted my life greatly. When I went to Washington I was able to stand at the very spot he stood when he delivered his historical speech. As an actor I was able to play Martin Luther King one time and it was an inspirational opportunity because I was able to research what it meant. Even more than fighting for equality, he found for friendship and kindness and fairness. That has influenced my life greatly. I thank him for the sacrifice he made.
Will Akins, Merrillville High School Junior
"When Dr. King died I remember how utterly painful it was. At that moment, I made a commitment to make sure his life would not be in vain. I made a conscious effort to move through structural impediments and to make sure I was living his dream. I believe if Dr. King was here today, he would be disappointed in our efforts. We use terms such as diversity and inclusion, but there are so many underlying demons that still stifle his vision. We must still keep up the fight against ignorance and indifference if we truly want to keep his vision alive."
Robert Cotton, Business Sales Consultant
"I'm mostly inspired by his practice of non-violence. He lived his life to exemplify and pursue equality. Being a mother of four bi-racial children, I realize we have a long way to go. We really need to talk about what needs to be done. MLK Day is like Christmas to our family because we truly celebrate God's love for us."
Sarah Degner-Riveros, Valparaiso University Spanish Teacher