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WATCH | ‘Good trouble’: MLK Day speaker challenges crowd to make a difference

by James Leigh | January 17, 2023 at 4:05 a.m.
Representatives of Union Missionary Baptist Church carry a sign with an image of Martin Luther King Jr. leading the march from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, Ala., during the Martin Luther King Day Parade in downtown Hot Springs Monday. - Photo by Donald Cross of The Sentinel-Record

The Rev. Rodrick McCollum Sr. challenged the crowd at the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at Horner Hall on Monday to cause "some good trouble."

McCollum, the pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church Rockport, said that while King was called a "troublemaker" by some, "Sen. John Lewis would say he was causing some good trouble."

"I need somebody up in here today to be found guilty of doing some good trouble," he said. "After all, it's going to take somebody. Look at the condition and the chaos our world is in today."

Sixty years after King's "I Have a Dream" speech was given from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on Aug. 28, 1963, McCollum said, "Although pieces of his dreams have become reality, if the truth be told up in here today, we still have a long way to go.

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"I'm still waiting when I can send my 9-year-old child to school with a whole lot of lighter-skinned people and them not look at him funny. I'm waiting on that day when we can stop just going to work together, going to Walmart together, going everywhere, playing sports together, but on a Sunday morning everybody goes to their own corner. I'm still waiting on that someday."

When people "check the box" that they attended an event celebrating King but do not follow through with actions, "Dr. King's dream will become an afterthought," McCollum said.

"We need to go out these walls and these doors and go out into the community," he said. "Go right across the street to City Hall and begin to make a difference in our world. Where does it start? It starts right here, right now. If we're gonna make a difference, if we're gonna make a change in America, first we've got to start in Hot Springs."

McCollum said even small things make a difference.

"We must remember," he said. "We must celebrate; we must act. We can make a difference one small win at a time. You can help somebody to rise up from the depths of despair on the wings of hope by changing your heart, and we can begin today by changing our minds on how we view things.

"We can make a difference in our community, in our neighborhoods, in our cities, and in our state if we put down hatred and pick up love. We can continue to live out the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. if we put aside our differences and pick up togetherness, pick up unity. Put down community divisions and pick up tolerance and understanding for all God's people. We can make a change today."

The annual celebration began with a performance by the MLK Hot Springs Dance Team. The program's emcee, Union Missionary Baptist Church Associate Minister Carmen Jones, spoke about a lesson she had with her students at Malvern Elementary School.

"I was doing a lesson with my class last week in social studies, and we were talking about Dr. King," she said. "We were talking about the colored fountains and the 'whites only' fountains. I was telling my class, I said, 'I'm old enough to remember that,' and I remember here in Hot Springs where they had that. And they were like, 'You mean you couldn't drink out of certain water fountains?'"

Jones went on to give her students an example to help them understand the concept.

"They really didn't grasp the concept, you know, because this is a different time for a lot of the kids," she said. "And I said, 'Think about it like this. What if I said all the blond-haired kids had to sit on the floor, and all the kids with brown hair or dark hair could sit at a desk in my class?'"

The students then began to understand, and Jones noted the importance of teaching children about the past.

"It's important to teach about the past, so that we won't repeat the past," she said, noting the theme of this year's event.

"Now there are different ways to teach about it, so our children will understand it, but it's important that we teach it. Now the concepts of how we teach it might be different, but there is a way to teach it. But it's important that we do teach our young people about the past because things are still happening in this country that will keep us divided. But 'Unity Is Up To ALL Of Us,'" she said.

Diablo Coleman, president of the MLK Hot Springs Committee, said he hopes to see a larger crowd in the future.

"It was a little lighter than usual, but that's all right," he said, noting the weather could have dampened the attendance. "It's all good, and I appreciate everybody for coming out. ... I appreciate everybody who participated and stuff. Maybe next year it'll grow bigger."

Coleman said he started this event 18 years ago, and it has grown to include a Juneteenth event and the annual Back to School Bash. He said the parade and celebration were "excellent."

"Even with the parade, everybody was happy," he said. "Hey, sometimes a smaller group is better than a big group. And I enjoyed everybody, and the speaker did a good job and stuff. Everybody did a beautiful job."

Other performances included selections by the Lakeside Jazz Band, the Union Missionary Baptist Church dance team, Michael Watson and Carolyn Hughes.

  photo  The Hot Springs Miss Trojan queens wave during the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade in downtown Hot Springs Monday. - Photo by Donald Cross of The Sentinel-Record
  photo  The Rev. Rodrick McCollum Sr., pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church Rockport, gives the keynote speech at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at Horner Hall Monday. - Photo by Donald Cross of The Sentinel-Record

Print Headline: WATCH | ‘Good trouble’: MLK Day speaker challenges crowd to make a difference


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