The Quad-Cities remembered the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at several events Monday, addressing his legacy in some hard realities as well as acknowledging student achievers.
The Rev. Lance Chaney, pastor of St. John Baptist Church in Boynton Beach, Fla., spoke during a ceremony honoring King at the Rock Island center that bears the slain civil rights leader’s name.
“What you expect out of a child, you get out of a child,” Chaney said, reflecting on what he claimed were his state’s low standards of success set for black students as compared with other races.
He held politicians and church leaders, including himself, accountable for improving conditions for black people.
“I’m not here to be served but to serve,” he said.
A native of Rock Island, Chaney was the pastor of Greater Antioch Baptist Church, Rock Island, for 18 years.
Brenda Atwater of Rock Island said that King believed as much in serving all people as in improving race relations in the country.
“We eat from the same plate,” she said following Monday’s event, which included an awards presentation.
Atwater divides her time between Rock Island and Indianapolis, where she runs a safe house for runway teens.
The Rev. Dwight Ford, executive director of the King Center, pointed to the most overlooked part of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered 50 years ago.
“King started his speech talking about the economic conditions of poor and the African-American community at that time,” Ford said.
He added that when King was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968, he was mobilizing a poor people’s campaign.
“There is still work to be done, but that’s on us,” the Rev. Phillip Farrow, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church, Rock Island, told the audience, before singing about King’s legacy.
“Martin went on a balcony and gave up his life for you and me — that’s love,” he sang. “Thank you, Dr. King.”
Jerry Jones, who became chief operating officer for United Way of the Quad-Cities Area after serving 11 years as executive director of the King Center, received the Dr. King Memorial Service “I Have a Dream” Award.
He said he was “overwhelmed” and “humbled” by the honor.
“This place will always be in my heart,” Jones said about the King Center.
While leading the center, he steered a capital campaign that brought in $3.6 million for a building expansion.
“He’s done an outstanding job at the King Center,” Rock Island Alderman Terry Brooks said of Jones. “It’s stable because of his leadership.”
Daria Marion, a senior at Rock Island High School, received the 2013 Black Hawk College Commitment to Diversity Scholarship.
“I’m anxious to get started in college,” Marion said following the event.
She said she has wanted to be a dentist since she first got braces on her teeth.
The scholarship funds two years of tuition at Black Hawk College, Moline. Marion met the scholarship’s requirements by maintaining a 3.0 GPA and enrolling in numerous college prep courses. She is a member of the high school color guard, has volunteered at the Rock Island Public Library and has assisted at food banks. She also is a member of a local etiquette group called The Divine Ladies.
“Education is the cornerstone for the development of human potential,” Thomas Baynum, Black Hawk College president, said before handing the award to Marion.
Dominique Butler, a senior at Rock Island High School, received the Tia-Farrah Rice Youth Leadership Award.
She has been in the National Honor Society for four years and is ranked 22 in a senior class of 381. She’s captain of the varsity cheerleading squad and captain of the Metropolitan Youth Drill Team-Steppers. She’s also active in the Rock Island chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and her church.
“I appreciate her smile and her willingness to help her peers,” said Tia-Farrah Rice, Rock Island High School dean, who presented the award to Butler.
Music is the “universal language” by which one group can share its sorrows or its joys with others, Dorian Byrd, director of Imani Dancers, said after a Monday performance at Davenport’s River Music Experience to honor King.
“I think music holds the spirit of a people and helps pull us together,” Byrd said, adding the music of Duke Ellington and others spoke to the civil rights generation of the 1960s.
Her Imani Dancers — Kennisha Entsminger, 15, of Davenport; Jaiveiona Cooke, 14, of Rock Island; and Victoria Mbakwe, 17, of Davenport — performed to Duke Ellington’s “The Lord’s Prayer.”
The Imani Dancers are based in Davenport. The word “imani” means “faith” in Swahili, Byrd said.
“Without faith in those who paved the way for us, in God and in our people, we’re not going to make it,” she said.