GALLIPOLIS — Putting the words of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to action was the message given to those gathered in the Paint Creek Regular Baptist Church on Monday during a special service honoring the civil rights leader and his legacy.
The event sponsored by the Southeastern Ohio Branch of the NAACP featured Dr. John W. Perry, Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Holzer Medical Center, who called on the audience to live the words of King.
“Very few are called to the grand stage of consul, to lead, to change the course of man’s evil doing, to mold society, and, I daresay, change the world as Dr. King did. However, we all have friends, relatives, and, yes, enemies, whose lives we can positively impact. I say, adopt a grassroots approach: one relative at a time, one friend at a time, one enemy at a time,” Perry said. “Put the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s words to action.”
Perry, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica and immigrated to the United States in 1980, spoke of King’s call to action that affected and is still affecting the many third world countries of the world and, namely, the relationship King had with his own native country and the civil rights leader’s lasting legacy in the West Indies.
“The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is, yes, a true American hero, but I am here to tell you today that you can also be proud of this voice of inspiration, leadership, freedom and human rights because he impacted the entire world,” Perry said. “He is also known as the adopted son of many third world nations. Dr. King was not just an icon of civil rights in the U.S.A. but also a champion of human rights around the globe. Most know Dr. King’s life here in the United States of America. At times overlooked is the tremendous gift to the world Dr. King was. He was and still is the voice of freedom for all races, people and everyone worldwide.”
Perry discussed King’s love for the island nation of Jamaica evidenced by his many trips to the country. King is reported to have gained much inspiration from the people of the “Isle of Wood and Water” and during a trip there in June 1965, he delivered his own inspiration during a valedictory service at the University of the West Indies. There he spoke to a large gathered audience and over 400 graduates on the cusp of taking action in their own lives.
Perry quoted from King’s 1965 speech to the graduating class entitled “Facing the Challenge of a New Age”:
“If it falls your lot to be street sweepers, sweep the streets like Raphael painted pictures, like Michelangelo carved marble, like Shakespeare wrote poetry and like Beethoven composed music. Sweep the streets so well that all the hosts of Heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘here lived a great street sweeper.’”
Perry also reported on the research of James H. Cone, a professor of theology at the Union Theological Seminary in New York, who addressed King’s impact on the third world.
According to Cone’s work, when King gained international fame in 1955-1956 as a leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, no African Country below the Sahara Desert had achieved independence from the colonial regimes of Europe. By the date of King’s assassination in Memphis 12 years later in 1968, the great majority of the African countries had gained the independence. Incidentally, so did the country of Jamaica in 1962.
“Dr. Martin Luther King’s international impact extended well beyond the shores of his own land to the shores of every continent where he inspired the plight of many third world nations, where he inspired the persecuted, the oppressed and the downtrodden,” Perry said. “Where people saw darkness, he brought light to them.”