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Rev. King's message of equality still inspires young people

January 22, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - For Saundra Jackson, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is another member of her family.

The Hagerstown resident said King's name was as commonly used in her household as names from the Bible.

King was more than a representative of the black community, Jackson said. He is an inspiration to live the dream every day.

Jackson was one of about 700 people who attended Hagerstown Community College's fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration Monday. The event was hosted by HCC, the Community Foundation of Washington County and The Herald-Mail Co.

Teresa Jones of Hagerstown said the keynote speaker's message was especially important for her 11-year-old granddaughter and her friend. The speaker, Marvin Worthy of Chambersburg, Pa., said it is important to live King's dream of acceptance every day, not only when it is easy or comfortable.

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That includes when your Catholic son brings home his Jewish girlfriend or when your white daughter introduces you to her black boyfriend, Worthy said.

For Jones' granddaughter, Kierra White, and her friend Kirsten Mohar, 11, who are from biracial families, Jones said that message was important.

"They need to know they are equal," she said.

Terrie Angle teaches at Hagerstown Community College and said King's message of nondiscrimination is something for which everyone should continually strive. Forty-five years after King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, Angle said the words carry as much meaning as they did the day he addressed thousands in Washington, D.C.

Loretta McFarland of Hagerstown and her husband, Moses McFarland, were at Monday's event supporting their 12-year-old son, Aaron, who played the piano at the celebration. Loretta said they enjoyed the panel discussions and the re-enactment of King's speech by the Rev. Darin Mency of Greater Campher Temple.

Tiffany Ryan and her husband, Larry, led one of the discussions with middle and high school students. She said the students were asked questions about King, and when asked what his name means to them, most said peace, leadership, independence and freedom.

The students said the best way to commemorate King's life is to fulfill his dream, not live selfishly, and to be leaders in their schools and communities.

Most answered that their parents are the ones who best represent King.

Tiffany Ryan said Mency's re-enactment of King's speech was "thought-provoking."

"It makes you re-evaluate where you are in life," she said. "If we speak it, we definitely have to live it."

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