Locals pursue dream of equality

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Locals pursue dream of equality“I like to believe the opportunities for racial equality are present, but too often ‘we’ as a nation don’t take advantage of them. Unfortunately, we continue as a culture to allow our race, our social economic status, our political and religious affiliations divide us as a nation and as a community.”

But Melissa Coleman Constant, chair of a special celebration at Victory Baptist Church, believes that does not have to be the case.

In continuing pursuit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of equality, she and co-chair Eddie Edwards invite the community to “A Day of Unity” in observance of King’s birthday. The celebration will be held Monday, Jan. 15, at 11 a.m. at Victory Baptist Church.

“In the past, we’ve seen representation from all races and religions,” said Constant. “My hope is that this year’s Martin Luther King Celebration will be no different — that many will come and hear something that will inspire us all to keep Dr. King’s dream alive in our Ridgecrest community.”

Constant noted that her personal experience with racism, along with the current climate of division in our country, are reminders that we all have work to do when it comes to achieving King’s dream.

She reminded us that Dr. King warned that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“I am both challenged and inspired to be a part of conversations and opportunities to unite us as people in my community.”

Constant said the fulfillment of this challenge comes down to people living out the directive in Galatians 6:10, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people” — regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.

Helping promote the event is Allen Robbins, who admits that coming from a place of privilege makes his answers to these fundamental questions somewhat more academic.

“I’m not sure where it comes from, but I get excited every year when the MLK Jr. holiday comes around. I believe in the dream of Dr. King and those who stood by him. I believe in my heart that when all men and women are given a chance to bring their gifts to the table, we are all blessed. When there is prejudice, we all lose.”

He pointed to the election of Barack Obama as an indicator that some progress has been made toward equality, and that the dialog has been raised to a broader platform. “That said, we still have a very long way to go, and I want to be a part of helping our community and our country continue to move forward.”

Robbins said he believes such progress can come to fruition by people truly getting to understand one another.

“Getting us to rub shoulders, eat together, serve together all seems to help break down barriers. At activities like this, we often find that we have far more in common than we ever would have guessed, and that the differences we do have provide richness and fun to the relationship.”

Constant will welcome guests, as well as introduce the program. The collaborative event will include an invocation from Bill Corley of Crossroads Community Church, a dance number from New Beginnings Youth Baptist Church, a keynote by Eddie Thomas III of Victory Baptist Church and a benediction by Mark Wonnacott.

Attendees are invited to stay for a light lunch immediately following the observance.

Over just the last two years, the event has doubled in attendance from just over 100 guests to more than 220 last year. Robbins predicted an overflowing church this year, “But I suppose that is a good problem to have — it is great to see so many people coming together and getting to know their neighbors.

“I think one of the greatest blessings of this project has been getting to work with so many wonderful people who share a dream of a better world for all. Working with Eddie and Melissa on this celebration over the last couple of years has truly blessed my life.”

Story First Published: 2018-01-12