Remembering a DreamJanuary 20, 2020
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — He had a dream. On Sunday, Dubois County residents remembered it.
About 80 people gathered at Trinity United Church of Christ on Sunday to honor the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Days after what would have been the American hero’s 91st birthday, those in attendance made their own pledges to be champions of justice in their community.
“Seeing this happen, I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Eber Menjivar of Jasper. “His message was to be united. Be all one. One for all, everyone be equal. No differences between one color and the other.”
Menjivar continued: “And even though that was decades ago, we still have some of that separation here today. And if we can break that barrier, and break that mentality ... that was his dream.”
The event was organized by ONE-Dubois County ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is today. In addition to a sermon that explored King’s legacy, attendees collaborated on an art project and shared a potluck-style meal. Food bank donations were also collected.
Instead of using their voices to share King’s story in the service that capped off the evening, coordinators used the words of King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, and widely acclaimed public interest lawyer and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson.
“I just feel like it’s so important to recognize him in this community,” Linda Kahle, the ONE-Dubois County member who spearheaded Sunday’s gathering, said of King. “Because we don’t a lot of times. I just think his message was really important back then, but it’s still really important today.”
According to the latest census data, Dubois County is 0.8% black and 90.1% white.
Jane Hillman, Trinity’s pastor, spoke of the importance of finding peaceful ways to have important conversations. She also emphasized that there is still a difference between black and white experiences in today’s America.
“This is not something in the dark ages that we have moved beyond,” she said.
Hillman explained that Sunday’s assembly was important because it was the only local event that focused on King over the weekend. Before the sermon, attendees traced their hands on paper, cut them out and wrote on them what they could do to fight for justice in their community.
Those hands were then glued over a rainbow peace dove banner on display at the church. Carolyn Winkler of Huntingburg wrote that she will help others. Sandra Ferrell of Jasper wrote that she would help get out the vote in 2020.
By the end, the symbolic bird was completely covered in plans for action.
Dan Sergesketter of Jasper is old enough to remember when the civil rights movement was taking place. He supported it, and he believes the nation now needs someone like King to unite Americans.
“His dream was that white children and black children would walk together,” Sergesketter said. “It wasn’t supposed to be divisive. We live in such divisive times ... his [dream] was about unifying, and going forward together. We need someone with that kind of eloquence today. Who is a consensus-builder, rather than a divider.”
Kahle hoped guests would leave thinking and remembering that “there’s always somebody out there fighting to be equal.” And she hoped that by realizing that, they would strive for that equality and really think about how we can make it a reality.
Sergesketter hopes that events like Sunday’s gathering become more common in the area.
“I would hope that the community would support more things like this,” he said. “That we see ourselves as a community of many different types of people.”
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