Do you remember the following ditty? “Martin Luther King had a dream that we would all come together like peaches and cream.”
I sometimes recite it today just as I did when I first learned it some 30+ years ago. When I repeat it, I do so with the same child-like fervor that is characteristic of happy youth, for it is as a child that Dr. King became the active visionary that worked relentlessly for equal rights.
Dr. Harry S. Wright, Sandhills Community College’s speaker for the Dr. King Observance, eloquently relayed this child-like fervor during his “The Making of a Dreamer” message delivered on Jan. 18 in the Owens Auditorium on the college’s campus. Dr. Wright is a Biblical scholar, former educator, and former pastor of both Shiloh Baptist Church in Bennettsville, SC, and Cornerstone Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY. In addition, Dr. Wright is both a former Dean and President of Bishop College in Dallas, TX.
Dr. Wright’s son, Harry Wright, Jr., is currently the vice president of student services at Morehouse College in Atlanta, which is also where both Dr. King and Dr. Wright attended. Prior to becoming the VP of Student Services at Morehouse, Dr. Wright’s son served as a chaplain at a federal prison in Atlanta. The thought of how Dr. King managed to escape this and all prison pipelines was the crux of Dr. Wright’s message last Friday.
Because Dr. King “was black, born in the South, and from the ‘ghetto,’” Dr. Wright posed a rhetorical question, “Given these ingredients, why didn’t Martin Luther King, Jr. go to prison?” Dr. Wright shared, “Nearly 2.5 million Americans are in prison.” With so many in prison, why did Dr. King not go? Reverend Wright offered these plausible reasons: “…a home that raised him, a village that pushed him, and a church that hooked him up with the man from Galilee.”
Relative to the home, “He was a product of a wonderful home that taught self-respect, civility, and sobriety. He had a mother that taught him the strength to love and a father who taught him the urgency of now,” shared Dr. Wright who personally knew Dr. King’s father, Martin Luther King, Sr.
Dr. Wright spoke of the village that pushed Dr. King away from prison. Having grown up on what has become a significant tourist attraction called 501 Auburn Avenue, in Atlanta, GA, “He [Dr. King] was the product of a village that taught him to dream and was the wind beneath his wings.”
Above all, the church and its teachings made up the fiber of Dr. King’s being. “Following his sister Christine to the altar, Martin King joined the church when he was five. He was a scholar that never left God. On April 3, 1968, the night before Dr. King died, he was in church,” said Dr. Wright.
Dr. Wright stated, “He [Dr. King] escaped the prison pipeline and transcended the ghetto because of what he got in the home, church, and village,” which brings to mind this original ditty, “Martin Luther King had a vision, and that vision did not include a life in prison.” These three ingredients are still recipes for success for all people.