Spirits Soar at Community Martin Luther King Day Program

January 21, 2015

Art Brooks Shares Recipe for Achieving Local ‘Beloved Community’

Art Brooks placed the establishment of “love and trust” among diverse persons and groups as the means for achieving the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision of the “Beloved Community.”

Brooks is the retired director of multicultural affairs at Wilmington College that continues to work on behalf of the local African-American community. He served as keynote speaker for the annual MLK Day program Monday (Jan. 19) at the College, which addressed the theme, “Beloved Community: Where Are We Really?”

While federal laws, Supreme Court decisions and marches on Washington all have an important place in advancement toward a post-racial society, Brooks challenged those in Wilmington, Clinton County and at Wilmington College to redouble their own efforts toward peace, racial equality and social justice.

He said such a grassroots effort would have ripple effects.

Introduced by 1999 WC alumnus Amanda Schear as a “gentle warrior for justice,” Brooks challenged faculty and staff at the College and local schools to get to know students outside the narrow scope of the classroom: see their students compete in athletics, perform in fine arts and endeavor in other arenas that showcases their talents and interests.

“Students know when you’re out there and they appreciate it,” he said, noting it’s a two-way street and students should show due respect and embrace opportunities presented to them.

In the community, he urged businesses to hire persons that may have made bad decisions, such as those that ran afoul of the law, but paid their debt to society and now wish to make amends and prove they can be productive. Brooks urged support for social service organizations whose mission is helping people and challenged those in law enforcement to be fair and colorblind.

Laritta Harris-Jones takes on lead vocals with members of BMBC's Praise and Worship Team and Choir providing back-up.

Larita Harris-Jones takes on lead vocals with members of BMBC’s Praise and Worship Team and Choir providing back-up. 

“We need to expand partnerships and to establish, heal and repair relationships,” he said. “Love and trust one another. Please take a look in the mirror. Take a self-inventory on whether you are part of the ‘Beloved Community.’”

Others also shared thoughts on the day commemorating the 86th anniversary of King’s birth.

WC President Jim Reynolds admitted that, even with the election and re-election of the nation’s first president-of-color, the United States obviously has not achieved the lofty status as a post-racial society.

“We’ve failed to lift up the vision Dr. King gave us,” he said. “Let us reconnect ourselves to the ideals of Dr. King — remember the dreamer and let’s make his dream ours.”

WC freshman Jamika Frazier shared the poem, “Wise Words of a Racist,” and Chip Murdock channeled the spirits of ancestors and others that have impacted one’s life in a positive manner.

Also, there was music — and how!

Bible Missionary Baptist Church’s Praise and Worship Team and Choir performed a program of rousing gospel music highlighted by Larita Harris-Jones’ soaring lead vocals.

Also, solo rap artist Issa Walker, a member of the Village Fam of Yellow Springs, shared good vibrations in the numbers “Bounce Right Back” and “Felling Good.”

Also, Carly Pritchard, a WC sophomore from Lebanon, won the MLK Day Essay Competition $100 prize with her piece, “Separate, But Not Equal: A Painfully Honest Examination of American Inequality.”