01/16/18 — Dr. King's 'forgotten' words

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Dr. King's 'forgotten' words

By Rochelle Moore
Published in News on January 16, 2018 5:50 AM

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Keynote speaker Addie Wright Thomason addresses the crowd during the annual luncheon.

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Members of the Southern Wayne High School chorus, SaintSound, perform for the hundreds of people in attendance for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day luncheon held this year at First Church.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a nation in 1963, about a bad check given to African-Americans preventing them from thriving in an equal society.

In one of the most pivotal speeches in American history, King first focused on the "dark and desolate valley of segregation" before he spoke the words, "I have a dream ..."

Addie Wright Thomason, keynote speaker of the 30th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Luncheon Monday in Goldsboro, said Americans have forgotten the harsher words in King's speech that awakened a nation to change.

"For most of us, it's forgotten," she said. "It has been revamped and it has been swamped in the soaring rhetoric of our collective memory of Dr. King."

Thomason said America continues to grapple with racial division, social injustice and the lack of true leadership.

"Just as we did in 1963, we find ourselves in a deeply divided nation -- one that is bleeding from the wounds of injustice and learned lines about morality," she said. "We are still a nation that is of the mindset that some of God's children are worthy, and that some are not."

Thomason said some Americans view themselves as superior and will fight to retain their position of power while others continue to have what she referred to as a "plantation mindset."

America today is riddled with mass murders, outward displays of white supremacy and terrorism, she said.

"Today, America is spiritually and morally bankrupt, but this doesn't mean that the vault of justice is," Thomason said. "It only means that we don't know the code to get in."

Part of the problem is fear -- fear of the outcome and fear of the future, she said.

"The solution is love and collective, corrective action," she said. "We must create Dr. King's beloved community, where no persons are left behind and all lives are valued."

Some of the ways to respond include becoming involved in seeking solutions, casting off assumptions and stereotypes of others and letting go of personal comforts for the greater good.

"This situation that we are in is real, and it has gone beyond a crisis," she said. "It's an emergency, but what I know is that it is out of emergencies that real leaders rise."

Good leaders have a gift of bringing out the best in others, they lead people toward restoration, are never swayed by personal attacks and care about the people they serve.

"A leader leads us to restoration and not divisiveness," she said. "They don't take credit for solutions that the people develop among themselves. A great leader loves and cares for the needs of all people."

Thomason spoke before nearly 400 people in the gymnasium at the First Pentecostal Holiness Church during the city and county celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Thomason, an ordained minister and pastor of The Reconciliation Table of Hampton Roads, is also the president and chief executive officer of Second Act Communities, a Virginia nonprofit that previously sought to develop a large-scale housing project in downtown Goldsboro.

Mayor Chuck Allen and Wayne County Commissioner Edward Cromartie spoke briefly during the luncheon, and the Southern Wayne High School ensemble, SaintSound, provided the entertainment before the keynote address.

Shycole Simpson-Carter, Goldsboro's community relations director, said efforts continue toward building a better community.

"The only way that a community is going to move forward is it's going to take all of us," Simpson-Carter said. "We're all better together. We're going to move together and move Goldsboro better together."