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King's words come to life at HCC event

About 700 attend diversity celebration

About 700 attend diversity celebration

January 22, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Some said if they closed their eyes, it was like they were there.

It was as if they had traveled back to Aug. 28, 1963, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.

Though, instead of listening in Washington, D.C., they were at Hagerstown Community College. And in King's place they saw the Rev. Darin Mency of Greater Campher Temple. It was the fifth year the school has hosted the Martin Luther King Jr. diversity celebration, according to Donna Rudy, dean of student affairs at HCC.

"It's an opportunity to focus upon (the Rev.) Martin Luther King Jr. and to come together as a community to do that," she said.

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About 700 people attended the event, which included Mency's re-enactment of King's speech, diversity workshops, music and a keynote address from Marvin Worthy of Chambersburg, Pa. Worthy, who is president and CEO of Worthy Consulting and Training LLC, spoke about continuing the legacy of King's speech and his work as a civil rights leader.

Growing up black in rural South Carolina in the 1960s, Worthy said he experienced discrimination and racism first-hand. Worthy said when he attended school in Philadelphia and then Shippensburg (Pa.) University, he was often one of only a few black students.

There, he experienced isolation and alienation, and he decided to stop complaining about the injustice and do something about it - like King.

"I am a product of the dream," he said.

Paying tribute to King means confronting the injustices present today, Worthy said.

Some in attendance Monday pointed to Barack Obama - a popular black Democratic candidate for president - as evidence that 2008 is drastically different than 1968, the year King was killed. Worthy said King would look at today's circumstances and say there is still much more to be done.

He urged the audience to be a caring community - to be inspired; to be just, loving and honest; to be open, serious and available. Worthy said to be forgiving, purposeful, courageous and thoughtful.

Those qualities and others help to keep King's dream alive, he said.

Worthy said people must stop assuming, judging, fighting, whining, killing and forgetting.

Hagerstown Community College President Guy Alteri said Monday, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is not a black holiday.

It's a celebration of a great civil rights leader, Alteri said, and an opportunity to promote diversity.

"Everyone should have a stake in diversity," he said. "Your life becomes richer, and our country becomes stronger."

Monday's event included original poetry from Larry and Marshay Ryan, and performances by Zachary Worthy, Ki'Yanna Bynum, Aaron McFarland, Natalie Stephenson and Tyree Burnett.

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