Rev. King's message of action and service lives on, say speakers
Published: January 13, 2012
GARY, Ind. (CNS) -- Two priests and one mayor recalled the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in two words: action and service. Speaking Jan. 8 at Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary, the three recounted the slain civil rights leader's belief in equality and nonviolence, challenging their audience to continue that legacy. "Martin Luther King once said, 'Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" said Father Jon Plavcan, rector of the cathedral for the Diocese of Gary. "He believed each individual possessed the power to lift himself or herself up no matter what his or her circumstances were in life. He was a person about service in the world and helping others as well." Karen Freeman-Wilson, the newly installed mayor of Gary, asked the assembly: "What is going to cause you to move into action?" The first female mayor in Gary's 106-year history, Freeman-Wilson inherits a city racked with urban problems: high crime and poverty rates, low graduation rates, and buildings and neighborhoods in need of repair. This situation, the new mayor said, evokes many sentiments -- shame, fatigue, anger, and righteous indignation -- the same feelings that led others to fight slavery for equal rights. "Righteous indignation caused Dr. King and others to move from sentiment ... to the action of the civil rights movement," said the Harvard-educated Freeman-Wilson. People can sit idly by and abdicate their responsibility, the mayor said, or they can be part of the solution. As followers of Christ, Freeman-Wilson said, it is not just about sharing Christ's heart or sentiment, "but his action." She added, "God's hands are our hands."
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