For the Troy Daily News
TROY — The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday celebration gives people the opportunity to think about unifying to find solutions to concerns, Shane Carter, executive director of Troy’s Lincoln Community Center, said during a celebration program Monday at Upper Valley Medical Center.
“The Rev. Dr. King is one of the most courageous, passionate and effective leaders I’ve had the privilege to study. The most admirable trait about Dr. King was his ability to lead people in a direction and not using violence to do that,” Carter said.
King stood out for his ability to focus on finding solutions to problems including racial injustice using composure, integrity and self-control instead of promoting violence or property destruction, he said.
“There is a reason why this is a national holiday. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put so much into the progress we see today,” Carter said.
A graduate of Troy High School and the University of Wisconsin, Carter told how his father, the late Clarence Carter, shared with him experiences in the drive for civil rights. Among those experiences was Clarence Carter’s participation as a basketball player in a sit-in at a Woolworth’s food counter in Springfield in 1954.
Despite great progress, work remains to be done, Carter said.
“Many people still want to divide America. Dr. King is watching us today and proud of our progress, but challenging us all that there is much more work to be done,” he said. “Until every innocent child feels the content of their character is the determining factor used to judge, accept and embrace them, there is work to be done.”
The solution, he said, begins at home, and then extends to others. “I believe there are stereotypes in all of our minds that we all must overcome, including myself,” he said.
“You know we don’t have to like people to work with them. You don’t have to absolutely love your neighbor, love your boss … but we can work together and we can use our voice to communicate and we can have the ability to be able to assimilate as one nation,” he said.
As America sees a change in national leadership, people’s focus needs to go beyond whether someone is optimistic or pessimistic, he said.
“Realistically, the person holding that seat does not impact our lives as much as some of us complain about. We still have the ability to get up and go to work … to make the difference we want to make in the community,” Carter said. “I would really encourage all of you to focus on what is important to you. Not on what the news says, not what CNN says, not what Facebook says.”