Seaford chosen to take part in state's downtown development program

By Lynn R. Parks

Dr. Martin Luther King's famous speech, "I Have a Dream," is as meaningful now as it was when he delivered it from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. Maybe even more so, said Brian Nixon.

Nixon, manager of the Invista plant in Seaford, read an excerpt of the speech at Monday's Western Sussex MLK Day of Celebration. He concluded with what are now famous words: "When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

"This speech is still relevant," Nixon said after his reading. "We still have people being treated differently in our nation today. There are still people who judge other based on the color of their skin, their religion or their race."

But Nixon also sees relevance in another speech of King's, delivered in 1968 at the National Cathedral, in which King said, "We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

"The longer that we live, the closer that we get to equality," Nixon said. "On that pendulum of history, we are further toward the right side than the wrong side."

The annual MLK Day of Celebration was held at Heritage Shores in Bridgeville. About 200 people attended. Pat Jones, a member of the "MLK Dream Team," was moderator, a job that she said she has had for more years than she can remember.

"This is such a great event," she said. "It is so encouraging to know that we can come together. Look around and you can see the diversity: young and old, black and white."

Guest speaker this year was the Rev. Dr. John Moore Sr., vice president of resource development and strategic partnerships for the United Way of Delaware. Like Nixon, Moore also read an excerpt of a King speech, the 1965 "How Long, Not Long," delivered in Montgomery, Ala., and concluding with the words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Moore also pleaded with people to embrace the theme of the celebration, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

King wrote those words in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, in 1963. "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny," King added. "Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

"We must speak in one voice," Moore told the audience at the celebration. "Events that are happening in Ferguson, Mo., in New York City, in Paris and in Nigeria are just as much our problems as they are theirs. We have a destiny that we all share."

The event's Outstanding Community Recognition award was given to former Sussex County Councilman Dale Dukes. Dukes was also presented with proclamations from the city, county and state.

"Dale isn't the kind of person who is out front, making a lot of noise," said current council president Mike Vincent, in presenting the county proclamation. "But he was always working behind the scenes. He helps people; he has spent his whole life doing that."

Also featured during the celebration was a short skit presented by father and son Terence Moore and Jair Moore. In the skit, which was written by Terence, an older man breaks up an attack on a younger man. The older man is injured, hit in the head in the same spot that he had been hit years earlier, during the 1963 protests in Birmingham, Ala.

The young man keeps saying that he has to leave, that he has to get his cell phone back from the men who stole it. Finally, he is silenced by the older man, who cries out, "I did it for you! I did it for you! Don't go messing it up over some cell phone. If you've got to go, go and be somebody."

At the conclusion of his speech, Moore challenged members of the audience to "dare to dream."

"We can make Sussex County, Kent County, New Castle County, Delaware, the United States and the world the best places they can be," he said. "We can make them so that when Dr. Martin Luther King looks down from on high, he can say, 'Thank-you, Jesus. My dream has come true.'"

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