Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Martin Luther King service focuses on power of individuals to affect change

John E. Klein, president of Randolph College,
and William A. Johnson, Jr., keynote speaker
The first African American mayor of Rochester, New York, urged an audience at Randolph College to focus on how they can follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther King, Jr., rather than think his accomplishments are unattainable.

“Never underestimate what the power of one person can be,” said William A. Johnson, Jr. “The next time you ask the question, ‘Who will be the next Martin Luther King,’ let me just direct you to one place: to the mirror. Look at it, and you will see who he is.”

Johnson was the keynote speaker for the College’s annual Martin Luther King remembrance service on Wednesday. Johnson witnessed the civil rights movement while he was growing up in Lynchburg. He now is a public policy and urban studies professor in Rochester.

He described the efforts of local civil rights leaders, such as Virgil Wood, who was present for the event. He said that King himself would have said that the success of the civil rights movement depended on many people who each made a difference where they can.

John E. Klein, president of Randolph College, presented similar thoughts during his speech. “Dr. King was one man, but he changed the world,” Klein said. “If all of us learned from his compassion, his courage, and his faith in the world, we too could make a difference in our communities.”

“The world has changed dramatically since 1963, when a quarter of a million people descended upon the nation’s capital to hear Dr. King’s vision of a world in which all men and women are truly equal,” Klein said.

“Thousands and thousands of women and men of all races and colors have worked to bring his vision to life. “Progress has been made, but not nearly enough.”

The program also featured remarks by Hermina Hendricks, the College ’ director of multicultural student services and a music professor, and Nashiva McDavid  ’12, president of the College's Black Leaders Association. Voices and Songshine, student a cappella groups at the College, led the audience in singing “We Shall Overcome” at the beginning of the program, and they each provided other songs later in the program.