More than a day: MLK audience challenged to live out ideals

February 08, 2023

Chris Ford and Sounds of Redemption sing at Trine University’s 31st annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month Celebration. (Photo by Parker Pelletier)
The theme resonated throughout the evening: The best way to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is to support and live out his ideals daily.

“As worthy as he is of a day in his honor, I don’t think he gave his life for a holiday,” keynote speaker Raphael Bosley, LMHC, said at Trine University’s 31st annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month Celebration, held Friday, Feb. 3.

Sponsored by the university’s Multicultural Student Organization, the annual event included student readings reflecting both on King’s legacy and the progress, or lack thereof, in carrying out his dream today.

Niyoki Chapman, music minister at Union Baptist Church in Fort Wayne, and Chris Ford and Sounds of Redemption, provided uplifting music for the event, including an up-tempo rendition of “We Shall Overcome” that also included the hundreds in attendance at the T. Furth Center for Performing Arts.

Embracing Dr. King’s words

Richard Hickman, welcoming those assembled to the city of Angola for the last time as its mayor, said that although he believes Dr. King would be disappointed at the racism still present in the United States, he also believes Dr. King would have been positive about the nation’s future.

“The reason I think he would have been positive is simply because of events like this happening every year at this time. The only thing is, we need to remember, 364 other days of the year, what it’s taken to get to this point,” Hickman said to audience applause.

Trine University President-Elect John Shannon, Ph.D., welcomed those in attendance to the university. Quoting Dr. King, he said, “Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to humankind as a whole, in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.”

“We can do what Dr. King was suggesting, if we don’t just hear those words, but fully embrace them — embrace their content in our hearts,” Shannon said.

A daily choice

Chris Ford and Sounds of Redemption sing at Trine University’s 31st annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month Celebration. (Photo by Parker Pelletier)
Bosley, a professional counselor as well as associate minister at Greater Progressive Baptist Church in Fort Wayne, challenged those in attendance to make sure King’s work was not in vain.

To do so, he said, we must first make a daily choice to leave the world a better place than it was when we arrived.

“That’s what Dr. King did: He left the world better than he found it,” Bosley said. “And it’s up to us to leave the world better than he gave it to us.”

He cautioned those in attendance not to absolve themselves of responsibility for making a difference by making Dr. King larger than life.

“Dr. King was an ordinary man who made a daily decision to do something extraordinary,” he said, “and I’m saying to you: You can make a decision like Dr. King every single day to do something extraordinary.”

We also have to be courageous and committed to change, Bosley said.

“When you make the decision to stand up, everyone will not be happy,” he said. “But you’ve got to make it your business right away that, despite what comes my way, I’m going to stick it out.”

In addition to courage and commitment, Bosley said carrying out Dr. King’s legacy requires compassion.

“When we hear the experience of someone else’s suffering, it should tug at our heart to go out and do something,” he challenged the audience. “We will listen to people complain, but what we refuse to do is do the work necessary to help rescue them.”

Working together

In closing, Bosley said we must all work together for positive change.

“This isn’t a Black or white thing. This is a humanity thing,” he said. “Yes, we’re here celebrating Dr. King, one of our favorite figures, but what I know to be true is that he did not do it alone. It took a community. And the community wasn’t just Black individuals, but it was all nationalities, fighting for one cause, and that’s for the world to be better.”

The program closed with thanks and remarks by Deborah McHenry, executive director of student affairs at Trine University and advisor for the Multicultural Student Organization, and a final musical selection by Niyoki Chapman, Chris Ford and Sounds of Redemption.

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