Speakers challenge community during MLK program
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 12:00 AM
Those in attendance at Monday's Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration were challenged to take an active part in their community, particularly their schools.
The theme of this year's MLK program in Westside Community Center was "Celebrating God's Drum Major."
As is traditional, a parade was held earlier in the day in downtown Philadelphia.
Under the guidance of program chairman Eva Tisdale, speakers called for attendees to continue taking an active part in their community.
"There is no such thing as standing still," Pastor Peggy Gipson said, offering words of encouragement.
Gipson said Dr. King was determined and those who follow his example should show that same determination.
The main speaker for the program was Harold Coburn, a local pastor and member of the Philadelphia School Board.
He spoke on how he and others stand on the shoulders of Dr. King.
"He was a mortal man with an immortal dream," he said.
Coburn talked about Dr. King's march in Philadelphia and how he tried to enter the Neshoba County Courthouse.
He said when King was barred from entering the building, he turned around and addressed the crowd.
"Dr. King spoke on how the killers of the three civil rights workers were probably near him," Coburn said.
"That's when he heard someone behind him whisper, 'You're right,'" Coburn told those in attendance at Monday's program.
He then spoke of how King did not ask for a handout, "he asked for a hand up."
Coburn also addressed current issues, including the high school dropout rate, charter schools, school funding and the incarceration rate.
"There are more incarcerated than there were enslaved in 1860," Coburn said.
"If you don't take a stand, you'll fall," he said.
After Coburn's speech, Tisdale opened the floor for remarks.
Shawn Seales discussed the need for more registered voters. He emphasized that even those with criminal records could vote as long as they were not convicted of violent and otherwise ineligible crimes.
Local NAACP President Leroy Clemons said elected officials needed to deliver on their promises, including bringing in more jobs and refurbishing old buildings.
If the representatives do not do better, Clemons said, "send them home."
Lastly Johnny Beckwith spoke of the need for more black teachers in the Philadelphia School District, especially the middle school.
Tisdale ended the program by asking for more youth support in the Community In Action group.
"We need some younger legs," she said.