What: Martin Luther King Jr. Day conversation
When: Monday at 7 p.m.
Where: via Zoom
Who: Julia Naylor and Jane Burleson
Two longstanding members of Coppin Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church will share their experiences during the era of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.
Julia Naylor and Jane Burleson will talk about MLK on Monday night through Zoom.
“It’s highlighting those two,” said Sherry Washington, president of Pleasant Valley Awareness Committee. “The thought was for Jane and Julia to talk about their life during that era and what they remember.”
The two women are in their 90s. Burleson became the first woman and first woman of color to be elected to the Fort Dodge City Council in the 1980s. Naylor is a Fort Dodge native. She worked at Hormel for many years. Naylor has spoke at many programs through the church including a talk called “Growing Up Black in Fort Dodge.”
“Who better to tell a story of MLK at that time,” Washington said. “Just to get their view and their feelings on what was going on in their lives”
Washington said it will be interesting to hear how the two women view the world now versus then.
“We see the documentaries and the movies but I figured how many times do we have two women in their 90s that could speak on it?” Washington said. “This will be a great opportunity in time for those two wonderful women to tell a little bit about what they remember. We want to hear their thoughts then and their thoughts now. Is it still the same. Did it change? Are we evolving or going backwards?”
The Zoom call is open to the public. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions.
Washington believes MLK’s dream is alive today.
“He symbolizes the whole movement of what we are doing today,” Washington said of the renowned civil rights leader. “Here in America and around the world. Folks are more diverse I think than what they have been in previous generations. now it’s not so unusual or uncommon to see mixed couples and mixed children, mixed families. His dream knocked down a lot of barriers and a lot of walls.”
Washington said MLK tends to be a figure that brings people together.
“I feel that everyone loves Martin Luther King, not only African Americans, but everyone,” she said. “I believe everyone can see his dream for what it is. And together everyone is moving it forward I think or trying to.”
Even with racial tensions high throughout the country, Washington said there are victories to be had.
“We still have some hills to climb, some mountains to get over but we are still pressing forward,’ she said. “Not everyone is in love, peace and harmony. But you still have to love your neighbors. Look for the brighter side. If we keep moving forward hopefully we will accomplish that dream he had for us. With so much going on in the world right now, a little community, love and reflection can go a long ways.”
Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most iconic leaders in the Civil Rights Movement.
From southern roots, King was born and raised in rural Georgia. Son of a Baptist minister, he was raised the middle child in a family with three children.
King excelled academically in his primary studies and initially entered college at Morehouse College at the age of 15. In 1948, King earned his sociology degree from Moorhouse College, he later graduated valedictorian in 1951 from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, with a degree in seminary studies, and earned his PhD at the age of 25.
King married Coretta Scott in 1953, and in 1954 became pastor of the Dexter Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
On the night that Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give her seat to a white man on a bus, King met with the local NAACP chapter. The group planned the Montgomery Bus Boycott of which King was elected to lead.
Martin Luther King Jr. gave his first speech among an audience gathered to initiate the Alabama Bus Boycott. His fervor for freedom and equality resonating throughout the community, a new revolutionary movement was formed. Disenfranchised residents joined forces to speak out against segregation and inequality, as the boycott lasted 382 days.
In 1957, King and others formed the Southern Christian Leadership conference, a group that led non-violent protests, meetings and events.
Following his Alabama arrest in 1963, excerpts from King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” were published in The New York Post Sunday Magazine, without King’s permission. The letter was written on the margins of a newspaper, the only paper King had access to in the county jail. The letter has been republished dozens of times, and is widely studied in Sociology classes until this day.
On Aug. 28, 1963, King led a mass gathering at the Lincoln memorial in Washington D.C. The gathering is known as one of the most historic moments in civil rights history. It was during this demonstration that King delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech,” the speech most people know him from today.
The year following, King worked with congressional leaders, and in spite of the bills 60-day long filibuster, King and many others attended the official signing ceremony of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. King also received the Nobel Peace Prize that year.
Four years later, the morning following Kings delivery of the “I’ve Been to The Mountaintop” speech, on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, he was assassinated.
Feelings of devastation followed nationwide.
Posthumously, King was awarded esteemed recognitions by the President of the United States, and Congress as well. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Coretta King, in 1977. In 2004, both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal
The national observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day occurs on the 3rd Monday of every January. This year’s observance lands many area professional a day away from work. One way to observe this day for many may be clearing away Christmas decor, but for many, the day involves keeping the legend alive at home by educating ourselves and our children about the feats conquered by this revolutionary national leader whose life work was abruptly cut short, but one short generation ago.
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