What a week this has been.
The combination of the second inauguration of Barack Obama and the 2013 commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday packed a big one-two punch.
I had tears in my eyes as I watched the annual service at Ebenezer Baptist Church as speaker after speaker showed the reach and range of King’s dream. It was also very moving to see Bernice King’s imprint as the new CEO of The King Center. For the first time in the 44years of the service, a Latino person gave the keynote address. The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of Sacramento, CA, followed in the footprints of other nationally-known speakers like the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and the Rev. Otis Moss Jr., a King associate.
Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Bernice rightly described him as “an electrifying orator,” as he urged his listeners to follow King’s lead to a more just and peaceful world.
On Saturday night, I was impressed by the Salute to Greatness dinner in which this year’s recipients included honorees in a new category: The inaugural ANGEL – Advancing No-violence through Generations of Exceptional Leadership – Award was created by Bernice to honor her mother Coretta Scott King and to recognize the work of young leaders from ages 12-to-25 years old.
Alec Loorz, founder of Kids vs. Global Warming and the global Matter Campaign, received the ANGEL Award for an individual. Loorz, who is passionate about saving the environment, said he learned public speaking and activism by watching and listening to speeches by Dr. King. Birmingham, AL, City Councilman James “Jay” E. Roberson, Jr., received the ANGEL on behalf of the “100 Days of Nonviolence” campaign, which he organized and led. During the campaign, no one was murdered.
Of course, this year’s Salute to Greatness honorees were stellar, as well. Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner known as the Father of Microcredit, received the award for an individual. The Bangladeshi banker and economist is best known for making it possible for poor women the receive “micro” loans to start their own businesses to get themselves and their families out of poverty. And Georgia’s own AFLAC received the corporation award. AFLAC CEO Dan Amos accepted the award, saying that his company is dedicated to improving the quality of live for its employees and the communities in which they live and work. He also noted that his company is 70 percent women and 40 percent people of color, a true reflection of their customers.
And finally, the dinner showed off its use of technology and social media, with attendees being asked to tweet throughout the event, using the #KINGSDREAMS and #IAMFREEDOM. You can go read mine under @adwnewswoman. In addition, attendees were asked to post their dreams for the world on a light board outside the dinner ballroom. My dream was to eliminate racism, poverty and war from the planet.
Then Monday afternoon, President Barack Obama was inaugurated for his second term as president, giving a magnificent speech that painted an inspiring vision of what America has working to be since it began with all its self contradictions.
Going back to the Declaration of Independence, Obama proclaimed that “all men are created equal,” and talked about our personal responsibility to work together for the common good. It was easily one of his three great speeches. It was so inspirational that it reminded me of his first speech in 2004 when he first came on the national scene at the Democratic Covention.
This was a great week. Makes you proud to be an American.
M. Alexis Scott is publisher of Atlanta Daily World.