Choosing love: Community gathers to honor Martin Luther King. Jr.

Published 10:44 am Thursday, January 23, 2020

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First Baptist Church was packed to the rafters Monday morning.

For the first time in more than two decades, the community turned out to honor the life and legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a revived community event.

“How I wish I could get this kind of crowd on Sunday,” First Baptist Pastor Moses Radford joked.

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While King was the public figure of the movement, the MLK Day committee members said the day was also to honor all who participated in the movement for civil rights.

Colmon Elridge III, a former senior advisor to Gov. Steve Beshear, spent much of the program speaking about the choice between love and hate.

“Dr. King once wrote he would choose love because hate was too big a burden to bear,” Elridge said. “In many ways, for all the progress we made, … the question is why hate seems to be the easier burden to bear.

“In the desire to be right in our group … it becomes easy to dismiss the person we ‘hate’ when he may have just been diagnosed with cancer, may have lost a child to the opioid epidemic.”

It’s dismissing the humanity of those we disagree with, he said.

The challenge, he said, is to build the more perfect union the country’s forefathers wrote about. Moving toward the more perfect union, he said, means caring for others, especially those we disagree with. It is built on how we treat children and our neighbors.

“The true judgment when we get to heaven isn’t how you voted in 2016 or will vote in 2020,” he said. “It’s how you treat the least of these.”

“We can all be great because we can all serve,” Elridge said. “Dr. King saw the promise in our country our forefathers and mothers did. Dr. King believed we could accomplish the big stuff.”

The trick, he said, is allowing us to care for others and dignify their humanity.

“In forming a more perfect union, (King) went to jail 29 times because he loved us,” Elridge said. “What we do today … to form a more perfect union, to move the county forward. That is the greatest gift we can give. What are we doing to form a more perfect union that is as good as we believe it should be?”

The event, which began with breakfast at the church, ended after the group marched to the Jessamine County Courthouse singing “We Shall Overcome.”

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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