By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The struggle of African Americans was an issue that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dared to challenge and his accomplishments toward ensuring equal treatment of all heritages was the topic of the annual Martin Luther King Day celebration Monday, hosted by the Laurel County African American Heritage Center.
Dr. Andrew Baskin, director and associate professor at Berea College, addressed the crowd gathering at the London Community Center to outline some of King’s accomplishments.
“Dr. King dared to finish what they (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln) started,” Baskin said. “It is true that they were great leaders. But Martin Luther King Jr. was a martyr. He died for what he believed in. He pressed on to cash the blank check from Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.”
Although Baskin said King could not be credited for starting the civil rights movement in the 1960s, he could be credited for continuing the movement.
“Dr. King didn’t start the civil rights movement. That started with the Montgomery bus boycott. But he challenged America and forced America to look in the mirror,” Baskin added.
Quoting phrases of many of King’s sermons, teachings and speeches, Baskin re-affirmed King’s belief of equality.
“Martin Luther King championed for the poor and the disenfranchised,” he said. “We live in a world where greatness is measured by accomplishments. Forty-five years later, despite his personal flaws, he achieved greatness. He was a leader but more important, he was a servant.”