Unity, respect, compassion is theme of MLK Day


You can’t spell community without unity.

That was the message at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at Antioch Baptist Monday afternoon.

Packed to capacity, visitors listened as Minister Sandra April Taylor spoke about the message that Rev. King would preach if he were still here today.

Rev. King would have turned 89 years old today, if he were not assassinated on April 4, 1968 outside a hotel in Memphis, Tenn.

Despite the passage of 50 years, Taylor said the African-American community and other races still face adversity and discrimination.

“If Martin Luther King were here today, I believe he would still have the need to remind us to get up,” Taylor said. “Despite amazing technological advances, despite being so blessed in our country, despite legislations of our day, despite being the wealthiest country in the entire world, America is still in a state of being wounded by prejudice.”

While she talked about unity and coming together, she noted that America’s leaders are the ones that have sown the division in our country.

“Don’t accept that it’s OK when we hear our elected officials, I’m talking about the President of the United States, disrespect fellow Americans with name calling, and racially charged statements” Taylor said. “Using vulgar terms to describe other countries of color. How can we hear of KKK demonstrations, of neighbor beating neighbor, just an hour away and not see a wound?”

Taylor read from John 5, verses 2-9 where the scripture speaks of the man at the lake who was healed by Jesus.

“Do you want to get well?” Jesus asked. “Jesus said to him, get up, pick up your mat and walk.’

At once the man was cured, he picked up his mat and walked.”

Taylor said our nation needs to be like the man cured at the water’s edge and get up and walk away healed.

“Today we celebrate a man who in the strength and power of his savior, Jesus Christ, saw the wound of injustice on the body of this country,” Taylor said. “He saw a complentancy against wrongdoings. God gave him the courage to say, ‘do you want to get well, America?’”

Taylor said that agree or disagree with the football players that took a knee during the National Anthem, they were at least standing up for what they believed in.

“We hear a lot these days about making America great again, certainly America won’t be great until it figure out how to rid itself from the stench of racism,” Taylor said.

Hearing God’s word and using His strength is the only way to remove the spectre of racism, she said.

“I pray that we aware and open to God using us today,” Taylor said. “He’s going to give us an opportunity to apply what we hear today, the message of love, the message of surrender.”

Taylor said we must embrace our differences with respect and dignity, and truly listen to one another.

“America will heal for real, for real, when the color of one’s skin no longer dictates how big their dreams should be,” Taylor said. “The lame man by the pool, needed the right cure to get well. America needs the right cure.”

Prior to Taylor’s speech, Steven Franklin, a junior at Madison High School, read Dr. King’s “I Have Been to the Mountaintop.”

He dedicated the reading to his grandfather Paul Arrington, while setting the tone of the day’s message.

“We’ve come a long way over the last century thanks to the efforts of the NAACP,” Franklin said. “Despite the country’s growth, black people and other people of color still face discrimination and racial inequality. Especially in today’s political climate when even the nations’ leader espoused division instead of unity.”

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Jeff Say is the editor for the Culpeper Times. He can be reached at jsay@culpepertimes.com