Story by Lon Tytell
This year the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Observance, held at the Union African Methodist Episcopal Church on Mon., Jan. 16, emphasized the theme, “A Voice Through the Ages.” Rev. Katherine P. Brooks, who presided over the service, began with a reading and a hymn involving the attendees. Sister Sharon Helper, of Temple Beth Shalom in Florida, shared a scripture reading from the Book of Joshua.
Sister Channabel Latham introduced the community leaders who came to speak, including Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard and Greenwood Lake Mayor Jesse Dwyer. Dwyer stated that there is now a U.A.M.E. Church in Greenwood Lake thanks to the efforts of Rev. Brooks, Town Councilman Floyd DeAngelo, Town Justices Peter Barlet and Nancy DeAngelo, County Legislator Paul Ruszkiewicz, lawyer Douglas Stage, and Cedric Gasper, owner of Mechanical Rubber, also attended the service.
During the service, music was provided by the children’s choir of the U.AM.E Church, Brother Reginald Bennett and the First Baptist Church Choir of Monticello, accompanied by pianist Brother Todd Gooden.
Sister Victoria Banker, a seventh grader and Warwick resident, daughter of a biracial family representing the Voice of Our Children, spoke about the importance of the Civil Rights movement. Brother Jamell N.A. Henderson, of the National Urban Fellow 2016, spoke representing the Voice of the Millennials. He evoked Dr. King’s famous, “I Have a Dream Speech,” and shared, “I Have a Vision,” which affords everyone an equal opportunity without discrimination in the United States of America.
Sister Tyre Bennett, representing the Voice of Generation X, spoke about the stress and pressure Dr. King faced when he left his personal needs behind to see the bigger picture that would enable everyone to work together for the common good. Featured guest speaker, Rev. Dr. Alvan N. Johnson Jr., Pastor of Grant A.M.E. Church, stated that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the “King of Hearts” who believed that love drives out hatred and darkness. He cited Joshua from the scriptures who believed that “those who yield our hearts to God will work together for justice and dignity, treating everyone with respect.”
He stressed the importance of education and the importance of the right to vote. The service concluded with everyone present locking arms and singing, “We Shall Overcome.”