The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
As President Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president for a second term Monday morning, people from all across the Golden Triangle gathered at the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center to honor another African American man: the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The center was bulging at the sides with people of all ages and insights to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Martin Luther King Jr. Support Group of Southeast Texas held the 27th anniversary celebration and dedicated the brunch event to the late MaDeline Kaye Savoy, former principal of the Wheatley School of Early Childhood Programs and vice president of the MLK Support Group.
The Rev. Anthony W. Wilcots Sr., senior pastor of the Bible Days Church in Houston, was the guest speaker of the event. The Houston native focused his message Monday morning with the delivery of one line: “Different to make a difference.”
King embodied that simple sentiment in his ambition to advance the civil rights of black people, Wilcots said in a thunderous voice as he addressed the near-capacity room. But it was King’s method that differed so greatly from the other competing voices of his time.
“Dr. King said we’re going to solve this segregation problem with nonviolence,” Wilcots said. “Can you imagine how they laughed?”
King believed that undeserved suffering could be redemptive, Wilcots said, and that was what he was ready to do during the Civil Rights Movement. He knew that violence was inevitable and that he would suffer.
“King believed that not only was suffering redemptive, but suffering could bring about transformation,” Wilcots said.
Transformation would come after King’s death in 1968. But there is still work to be done, Wilcots said.
“Nonviolence is still the answer,” he said in a voice so loud and full of emotion that it could have shaken the plaster from the walls.
Violence engulfs our world and our country every day, Wilcots said. Violence in our schools. Violence against children. Men’s violence against women. Street violence. Violence in the entertainment world.
“It has shown up in the most unusual places,” he said, referring to the Colorado movie theater shooting and the Newtown school shooting that occurred last year.
After the killing of 20 children and 6 women in Newtown, “there’s nothing left,” Wilcots said.
The vociferous pastor posed a three-pronged challenge to the audience to curb this violence pandemic. The first part was to urge and engage young people to think about the solution to violence.
“As Dr. King used the young people, so must we,” Wilcots said. “The answer to violence is in our youth.”
But it does not stop there. The second part of the challenge was for parents to encourage their children to participate in this process and to get them thinking about how to end all this violence.
Last but not least, city officials need to collaborate to create programs and outlets for the youth to think differently — to think about how to stop violence, Wilcots said.
“We need you to think differently that we might make a difference,” he said.
Honored guests of the morning included Ruenette “Maggie” Bolden, Brittani Washington and Charles Maull & Associates. The Rev. Mell Williams Jr. received the Let Freedom Ring Award, and Dwight Wagner received the Spirit Award.