MLK's words continue to resonate more than 50 years after death

Anderson University held third annual Peace & Justice March on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2018, going from the Paramount Theatre downtown to the university’s Reardon Auditorium. The international flags represent the many countries that make up the AU student body.

ANDERSON — Anderson residents will have several opportunities presented Monday by the city, Anderson University and WHBU 1240 AM and 101.1 FM to commemorate the legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Brian “B” Martin, who served on the organizing committees for the city and AU events, will serve as keynote speaker at the 42nd annual City-Wide Celebration themed, “We Can’t Wait: Actualizing the Dream ‘Where Diversity Divines Us.’”

“We believe that there have been some positive things that have happened in the last 60 years since that speech, but we would like to see that dream become more real,” he said. “We don’t just want this to be the start of a memory. We want this to be start of a movement for 2022. A memory is nice, but a movement has more power.”

The citywide celebration at noon Monday at the Paramount Theatre will feature introductions by Miss Indiana USA A’Niyah Birdsong and co-masters of ceremonies Jesse Reynolds Jr., executive director of the Leadership Academy of Madison County, and his wife, Rashai. The late Madison County Sheriff’s Department Chaplain, the Rev. Benjamin Santiago, will be remembered with an empty chair onstage in his honor.

The event also will include entertainment, refreshments made by the culinary arts students at the D-26 Career Center and about a dozen vendors.

“To see our whole community come together and honor MLK and bringing the whole community together, I just think that’s special,” Martin said.

He said making King’s dream become more of a reality requires a two-pronged approach: re-evaluation of laws, policies and procedures and building stronger relationships with people who are different.

“If we have both of those things balanced, I think we can see the dream become real,” he said. “It’s almost like flying a plane. You need both wings to be stable and get you to where you want to go. If one side is not working well, you’re going to crash.”

Tamie Dixon-Tatum, a co-organizer of the city-wide celebration, said, “This program is celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. MLK, but it’s using Anderson’s own talents. ... I look forward to the message and the call that Brian Martin will bring to the event.”

AU’s two-day event also will offer several opportunities to celebrate King’s legacy, including the annual march across the Eighth Street Bridge, service projects and a screening of the biopic, “Harriet,” about the abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

Martin, who is director of AU’s Cultural Resource Center, said the university has recommitted itself to diversity under the leadership of President John S. Pistole.

“On the AU side, we are trying to become a more welcoming campus,” he said. “In the past, it has been a challenge. We are renewing our commitment to that.”

Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.

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