‘Where do you stand?’

MLK Committee asks for unity in continued fight for equality

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

‘Where  do you  stand?’From left, Melissa Constant, Eddie Edwards and Allen Robins address the crowd at last year’s MLK observance — News Review file photo by Laura Austin

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More than half a century after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., advocates for equality still fight for the realization of his dream.

On Monday, Jan. 21, community residents will gather at 11 a.m. at Crossroads Community Church to honor the life and legacy of King, in a program titled “Where do you stand?”

In addition to a keynote address from Pastor Bill Corley of Crossroads, Heidi Costanzo is assembling a citywide choir to perform “All You Need is Love,” the Beatles’ iconic anthem released in 1967.

Allen Robins, one of the members of the committee hosting the annual event, noted that the Beatles refused to perform at Gator Stadium in Florida during their first American tour in 1964 unless the venue was desegregated.

“Pretty gutsy move for a new up-and-coming band of young men who just wanted to entertain people with their music,” said Robins. The Beatles made their opposition public, also refusing to stay in a segregated hotel and issuing a press release decrying the practice.

“While I do not believe that the Beatles intended to actively take part in the Civil Rights movement, this is a great example of courage and the willingness to stand up when needed. Their actions certainly fit well with the theme of our program.”

“We, as a people and a nation, must respect our differences and look for opportunities that bind us rather than those that differentiate and divide us,” said Eddie Edwards, another member of the community. That comes only with a willingness to understand the experiences and perspectives of others.

For her, the changes come one step at a time and can be found by “trying to look at things from the perspective Christ would.”

“In the past, we’ve seen representation from all races and religions,” said Melissa Constant, who chaired last year’s event. “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 a commitment to that dream is more important than ever when a climate of division reigns. “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.”

“I once thought the dream was that we should all become color- and culture-blind,” said Robins. “But now I am coming to see that the real dream America needs is for us to come to value and celebrate both the things we have in common and the things that make us different.

“Events like this give us a chance to mix and mingle with different people and experience the joy of discovering and celebrating our similarities and differences.”

Community residents interested in participating in the choir have one last chance to rehearse — Sunday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m. at Crossroads.

Story First Published: 2019-01-18