By Leah Sander
WARSAW — Unity was the focus of the 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Luncheon in Kosciusko County.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day event on Monday, Jan. 18, was a smaller than normal and held at New Life Christian Church and World Outreach, 744 S. CR 325E, Warsaw, instead of at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center at Grace College in Winona Lake. The change was due to COVID-19.
It had in-person and virtual components, with performances by Warsaw Community High School choir members and messages from Grace College students and a staff member shown via video.
The keynote speaker was Karen Abercrombie, an actress, singer-songwriter and film producer, who has won awards for her role in the Christian film “War Room.”
Abercrombie said unity is essential to achieving racial healing.
“See, unity is what’s going to get us through this time and take us on from this point,” she said. “United we stand; divided we fall. God knew what He was doing when He created all the colors. The God of all creation, all-wise, all-knowing, discerning God.”
She shared how people have turned aside from God’s plan for unity, but that can be changed.
“There are enough people right here in this room to start a fire that will change the world,” Abercrombie said.
She related back to King and the days of the civil rights movement in the mid-20th century, noting how both white and black people worked together to end discrimination for African-Americans in the South.
She touched on the struggles King went through in his fight for civil rights, reading excerpts from the letter he wrote to other religious leaders while imprisoned in Birmingham, Ala.
In the letter, King tells other leaders why he’s decided to continue fighting for civil rights despite continued opposition.
“He walked and wrote and lived from a position of love and hope,” she said. “I hope that is something that we can all learn to do and that we don’t go to sleep, that we’re not lulled into complacency because it’s somebody else. … We are all connected.”
She shared about how white people ignored the heroin epidemic that hit Harlem and other inner-city areas and how the opioid epidemic has now affected nearly everyone as one example of the dangers of complacency toward racial problems.
“It’s always been ‘we,’ ‘us,'” she said. “But see that darkness, it can be penetrated by the smallest prick of light and love.”
She reiterated using love to combat racism by reading several Bible passages on the subject of love.
Abercrombie ended her talk by sharing some black history. She mentioned Dr. Charles Drew, who figured out how to separate plasma from blood, and Lewis Latimer, who created the filament for light bulbs. Society would be better if black history hadn’t been shoved aside, she said.
InkFreeNews asked Abercrombie following the event what advice she would give young people.
“Letting them know that their work here, their purpose here has great value and that they are the world-changers because we (adults) went to sleep on them,” she said.
Some of the members of the Committee to Commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Inc., the group that organizes the event, shared what they hoped it did for the community.
Committee Secretary Alyssa Lowe said she hoped people took away the message of unity.
“I also hope that more people become aware that the CCMLK is still active and get on board and I’d like to see it grow to something bigger,” Lowe said. “Right now we’re a once a year event and then we hand out scholarships every year to high school and college students, but I would love to see it grow into more.”
The committee’s website is ccmlkwarsaw.com.
The group is having a fundraiser through Feb. 9. People may purchase MudLOVE bracelets to benefit the organization by going to lovewellfundraising.com/collections/live-fundraisers/products/Warsaw-CCMLK-event.
Her husband, John Bryan Lowe III, who is the committee’s president, also said he hoped people took away the message of working on racial healing.
“I think to reflect the heart of God that was in Dr. King’s message and in his life, also for that to be cultivated in our community,” he said.