Source: Sam Wildow | Piqua Daily CallRev. John Scott speaks at the Piqua YWCA’s 10th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Monday afternoon.
PIQUA — The snowy weather did not stop the Piqua community from honoring civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.
“I want to welcome you to the 10th — this is hard to believe, but this is the 10th —Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration that the YWCA has done here in Piqua, and we are so glad that you’re here to celebrate it here with us today,” Linda Grimes, YWCA committee member and volunteer, said.
The YWCA’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration featured speaker Rev. John Scott, pastor of True Vine Church, whose address, “The Power of a Dream,” spoke on Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” phrase.
“Why would such a simple phrase be remembered the most?” Scott said.
Scott recalled taking the civil rights movement for granted as a kid, considering nonviolence a weak response. Stories about his parents’ upbringing in Greenville, Miss., and learning more about the civil rights movement changed his mind.
“As I got older, I began to realize the courage that it took,” Scott said. “They would talk about sitting on the backs of buses, and they would talk about segregation and Jim Crow laws and their lives being in danger for the simplest of things.”
He said that as he got older, he realized how young the leaders of the civil rights movement were. Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader in the movement from the age of 26 — when he helped lead the Montgomery bus boycott in December 1955 following the arrests of Claudette Colvin in March 1955 and Rosa Parks in December 1955 in Montgomery, Ala. — until he was 39, when he was assassinated by James Earl Ray.
“I realized that these young people would put their lives on the line, that they would step out with courage and boldness to proclaim what was right, seeking justice, being maligned, and in danger,” Scott said.
In regard to King’s famous dream, Scott connected it with the Christian faith, saying that it had a divine origin and had “the power of God behind it.” “If God is behind it, it can’t be stopped,” he said.
Scott connected the vision of equality within King’s dream speech with the equality of the “kingdom of God,” saying, “There are no peasants, but only a royal family.”
Scott also said that King’s dream was altruistic.
“If your dream leaves you at the center of the universe, then your dream will not have a positive impact upon the universe,” Scott said. “If all your dream is about you and yours, if all of your dream is about material things, if all of your dreams about your own honor and your own prestige, then that dream is not a divine dream.”
Scott said that there was nothing wrong with having nice things, “but nice things don’t change the world. People do.”
Scott said that King’s dream was divine because love was at the center of it. He connected this with the Bible verse 1 John 4:8, which reads that “God is love.”
“God is love, therefore he is just. God is love, therefore he is kind. God is love, therefore he is patient,” Scott said. “Everything that God is has to be saturated with love when it flows through him.
“And so that any movement, at the center of that movement, if it is love and it is peace and it is nonviolence, then it is a kingdom movement and it is from the heart of God. And when you see the civil rights movement, and you see Dr. King, and you see the people that followed him, something compelled them to have more than a big house and a fancy car. Something compelled them that was bigger than themselves.”
Scott encouraged others to become involved a movement that would lead to the betterment of humankind. “You will never realize your divine potential until you invest your life into a cause greater than your own success,” he said.
Scott added that dreams like that may end up costing the person with the dream, but they require effort and sacrifice in order to reach the desired change.
“Change doesn’t come through passivity,” he said. “Change comes through protest. Change comes by agitation. Change comes when you are willing to have your reputation sullied. Change comes when you are willing to be jailed if need be, and you’re willing to be killed if necessary for your dream. Change never comes through passivity.
“Even the America that we love today did not come to pass through passivity but by revolution,” Scott went on to say. “And revolution that is bloody, is a revolution that will not last.”
A nonviolent revolution breaks the cycle of violence, Scott said.
Scott went on to say that King’s dream was one that could not be let go and went beyond himself, impacting future generations. “That dream has lasted generation to generation,” he said. “His dream has become my dream.”
Lastly, Scott also encouraged empathy and said that people of different races, ethnicities, and genders can relate to each other’s struggles.
“There’s no reason that a white man can’t relate to a black man when a black man tells you of injustice because all you got to say is, ‘How would I feel if that was done to me?’” Scott said. “I don’t have to be a female to have a woman talk to me and tell me about being sexually harassed or being paid less money than her male counterpart. I don’t go, ‘Oh, I can’t relate because I’m a man.’ All I got to is see a human being and think how would I feel if that happened to me?”
Scott said that if people treated others the way they want to be treated, “we could still change the world for the better.” He added that locally, “I believe that in places like Piqua and Troy, places overlooked … We can model a new way.”
The Piqua YWCA’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration also featured musical selections from the male chorus of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Church. Rev. Todd Allen, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, led the invocation of the event, and trooper Jim Davis of the Piqua Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol led the pledge of allegiance.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336