By Kevin Edwards
BC Staff Writer
Delta State University held a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at Jobe Auditorium recently in remembrance and reflection of the civil rights leader and his messages.
Hosted by the Office of Student Affairs, the event featured songs by the Coahoma Community College choir.
The keynote speaker was Duvalier Malone, a native of Fayette, who is a motivational speaker, author, columnist and community activist.
Malone reminisced on stories told by his grandmother of family members who worked in the civil rights movement, including an aunt who worked with King when he visited Tougaloo College in Jackson.
“I remember my grandmother sitting me down, sharing the stories of Dr. King and how things were in her day,” said Malone. “She said we all played a vital role in equal rights and justice for all.
“She said the movement wasn’t just about black folks. Dr. King fought for all people to have equal rights and justice under the law. You see, I believe my grandmother planting those seeds of history within me at the age of eight helped me on my path today.
“I recall being around eight years old where my grandmother would share stories of the civil rights movement — stories of Medgar Evers; stories of Emmitt Till; stories of the March on Washington.
“The moral of the story that I’m sharing with you today about my grandmother is that it took the beloved community standing in unity, knowing that we are more alike than we are different, to see Dr. King’s dream come alive and stay alive in my generation.”
The recurring theme and phrase used in Malone’s speech was “keeping Dr. King’s dream alive.”
Malone suggested that bestowing love on one another and being willing to take steps to initiate change as ways to make that happen.
“Dr. King stated that darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,” Malone said. “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. So today, I charge you all that when you are faced with darkness and forces that want to take us back in America to do what Dr. King did.
“Be courageous. Stand up and speak out, whether big or small. We need you in order to keep Dr. King’s dream alive.
“Whether you’re on the front lines marching, protesting, writing, singing, speaking or praying, to use your circles of influence to initiate change in your community. The future of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dreams to stand alive lies in all of us.”
Malone provided advice, based on his own experiences, on moving forward with change.
“On this journey of keeping Dr. King’s dream alive, you’re going to be faced with forces in our society that do not want change or progress,” Malone said. “However, you must bump against those norms to initiate change like Dr. King did. There will be roadblocks and many setbacks on your journey for initiating change in your community.
“The key is to never give up and to keep fighting for what you believe is right and what you believe is just.”