PRINCEVILLE — “We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters — or perish together as fools.” So said the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
King may have said that in a 1964 speech in St. Louis, Missouri, while in the midst of the nationwide struggle for civil rights, but this message of unity in the face of tremendous adversity continued to resonate with members of the Interfaith Roundtable of Kaua‘i who gathered at the Makai Golf Course in Princeville Monday afternoon to celebrate King’s legacy on the national holiday honoring him.
A group of about 50 people came together from 3 to 5 p.m., reading excerpts of King’s work, listening to speeches at an open mic, and singing along to live music.
“It was great to see,” said event organizer Anna Myers. “The universe just brought it together.”
She emphasized that King’s message of unity is particularly important in our current political moment.
“I think he would say that we all need to take care of each other,” she said. “We have to love one another, even those who have different beliefs from you. Even if you don’t agree with them you can still respect them.”
King was instrumental in desegregating buses in Montgomery and lunch counters in Birmingham, Alabama in the early 1960s. His work helped spur the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In the late 1960s, he became an early critic of the Vietnam War, and began to organize the working poor of all races in order to address economic inequality. He was assassinated in 1968 while supporting a sanitation-worker strike in Memphis, Tenn.
Singer and guitarist Bryn Quick kicked off the musical portion of the event, performing a rendition of “You and Me,” by Lifehouse.
“I imagine I wouldn’t have been able to play with a lot of amazing musicians if it wasn’t for Martin Luther King,” said Quick, who was also the sound tech for the event. “I’m just grateful for the changes that have happened because of him.”
Aimee and Jeremy Brown of Soulgood Family performed original songs, while Glenn Frazier and the Church of the Pacific led the group in singing “We Shall Overcome.”
The speakers included Bill Schilling, who discussed the events that shaped King’s life; minister Eric Lucy, who spoke on King’s message of brotherhood; and Sandy Brodie, who read from King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech while his wife Krista Brodie provided American Sign Language interpretation.
Speaker Lisa Insalata emphasized King’s legacy as a man of action, and pointed to modern issues that she believed King would try to take action on, like affordable housing, private prisons, money in politics and legislation that puts corporate interests over humanitarian interests.
“I hope that days like today reinspire us not only to dream but to take action,” she said. “Love and action was what (Rev. King) was about. He wasn’t about just thinking and dreaming. You’ve got to go out in the community and do it.”
Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 647-0329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island