As I write this column, our nation is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I can’t help but wonder how he would feel about the state of the country today. What would he think about the shootings and the killing of our young people? The seemingly senseless police shootings?
I am in no way trying to paint an ugly picture of our police officers. Lord knows there are countless good officers out there. But some of you will recall those days of turmoil when police officers dragged King and other peaceful protesters off to jail, often needlessly beating them with their night sticks. And spraying them with fire hoses. And attacking them with vicious police dogs.
Still, King held on to his integrity. What was meant to demean him and other peaceful demonstrators only showed their strength and their dignity in those trying times. For while they were beaten and dragged through the mud, those actions did little to deter them from the goal of justice for all they sought.
I was a teenager when Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man sparked the Civil Rights Movement. I can remember being so proud of her quiet rebellion. Years later, as a reporter for this newspaper, I would have the opportunity to interview her when she visited Miami. I was so excited when I learned that she would be here and asked my editor if I could interview her. I was given about 12 inches of space for my story. Not much for this lady, but I was just happy to be able to meet her and interview her. I wanted to hear her story.
I remember writing the lead to the story in my head: “She was just tired, that day. That’s all.”
But Parks told me that she wasn’t tired. Not in the sense of being tired in her body, as I had supposed. She told me she was a seamstress and had sat all day at her job. She was just tired of the injustice and decided enough was enough.
For her actions, Parks was arrested. And that is when a little-known Georgia preacher named Martin Luther King Jr. stepped in to take up the fight. The rest is history .
The King era helped shape my life. I believe in peaceful, God-led protest. But because the wheels of justice turned so slowly, peaceful demonstrations started to go out of style for some of our people. They got tired of turning the other cheek, of being spat upon and demeaned. And after King’s assassination in 1968, what followed was an eye-for-an-eye type of violence that would all but tear our country apart.
I never had the honor of meeting King. But I followed his life and admired his nonviolence stand. I can still see him, marching — arms locked with his wife, Coretta, and others of different nationalities — marching peacefully to protest the Jim Crow laws that divided our country.
So today, as I remember Martin Luther King Jr., I think that if my mom were alive today to see all the violence and terrible things that are happening to our citizens in this, the world’s greatest country, she would say of King: “He must be turning over in his grave.”
PINK TEA IN LIBERTY CITY
The Baptist Women’s Council of Greater Miami and Vicinity will have its annual Pink Tea at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the Fellowship Hall at the Church of the Open Door, 6001 NW Eighth Ave., Liberty City.
The speaker will be Lawana Parrott, wife of the Rev. Benjamin Parrott, pastor of Christian Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Liberty City.
Organized in 1963 in the home of the founder, the late Marie M. White, the organization’s vision was to promote mission and education, said Cheryl Kelley Johnson, a member of the council.
Under the leadership of President Connie Lewis, Johnson said, the organization continues to promote its mission by providing college and vocational school scholarships to high school seniors, and through its support of Florida Memorial University, the United Negro College Fund, Chapman partnership and Thanksgiving gift cards. The council also has an organization, G.I.R.L. (Guiding and Inspiring Righteous Ladies), to help young girls.
Mary Hill Eubanks is the tea’s chairwoman and tickets are $15 each. Call Johnson at 305-484-2996 for tickets and more information.
TU B’SHVAT CELEBRATION
Temple Beth Tov Ahavat Shalom, 6438 SW Eighth St., West Miami, will celebrate Tu B’Shvat, which is the 15th day of the Jewish month Shevat and the holiday known as the “New Year for Trees,” at noon Saturday.
The temple will celebrate the holiday with its seventh annual Tu B’Shvat Seder. During the ceremony, those attending will taste fruits grown in Israel: oranges, bananas, dates, peaches, grapes and figs. There will also be wine partaken with symbolism and explained through songs and dialogue.
Everyone is welcome. For more information, call 305-205-3846.
ASSOCIATION FOR JEWISH SPECIAL EDUCATION
The Association for Jewish Special Education will celebrate Tu B’Shvat from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Temple Sinai of North Dade, 18801 NE 22nd Ave., North Miami Beach.
The event is free and will feature games, music, crafts and refreshments. All those attending will be given a plant.
The 39-year-old local organization celebrates Jewish holidays for adults with developmental disabilities and their friends. It is sponsored by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. For more information, call 305-205-3846 or 954-442-9624.
CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA BENEFIT GALA
The Cleveland Orchestra will celebrate its 10th anniversary season in Miami at a benefit gala concert at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
This is the first gala celebration with the Cleveland Orchestra and its community partners. Each year since it’s been in Miami, the orchestra has had a sold-out subscription series at the Arsht Center.
In addition, it has performed educational concerts for more than 45,000 Miami-Dade schoolchildren, making Miami the Cleveland Orchestra’s second home.
The concert will feature soprano Renee Fleming and Franz Welser-Most conducting the orchestra. Guests will begin the evening at 6 p.m. with valet parking at the Hotel Intercontinental and transportation provided to the Arsht Center for the concert. After the concert, transportation will be provided to return guests to the hotel for a cocktail reception and dinner in the ballroom.
Tickets for the concert only range from $75 to $220. Gala tickets, including premium concert and dinner seating, are $2,000 a person. Gala tickets for preferred concert and dinner seating are $1,500 each and $1,000 each for concert and dinner seating. Table sponsorships start at $10,000 and offer exclusive benefit packages.
For tickets and more information, visit clevelandorchestramiami.com.
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