Local NAACP remembers life of King

Published 12:42 am Monday, January 21, 2008

NATCHEZ — The Natchez NAACP gathered Sunday night to remember the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.

The theme of the banquet was “Moving From Good to Great,” and all those who spoke, urged the black community to keep moving forward.

In her introduction and welcome, Katie Moore asked the crowd if they had forgotten the dream of King.

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“Let’s not let him die in vain,” she said.

Derrick Johnson, state president of NAACP, made special remarks where he too, looked toward the future.

“Martin Luther King did not start and end with a dream,” he said.

He spoke first of the great progress that has been made, stating that four years ago the Mississippi NAACP had merely 4,300 members but now has almost tripled to 12,000.

But he urged that the black community should not settle.

“The question today is, what kind of organization are we going to be?” Johnson asked. “What are we going to do tomorrow morning? What are we going to do next week?”

Johnson said King had a dream but he also had a vision for the future.

“It’s time to break the silence, get up and get to work,” Johnson quoted from one of King’s last speeches.

The next speaker of the evening was the Mrs. Alcornite 2007, Zelmarine Anderson Murphy.

Murphy said that if King had dream, she’s having a nightmare.

“I look at us as a people today and I am concerned about the lack of response in our community,” she said. “It is frightening and troubling me.”

She said today’s black community is still operating as it did in the 1950s and 60s.

The problem, she said, has to do with education.

“There are two kind of people in this world,” Murphy said. “Not black and white, not rich and poor, but those who are educated with a marketable skill and those who are not.”

She said sending children to school without a clear cut purpose is the demise of the black community.

“Why are we not involved in our children’s education?” Murphy asked.

She told the crowd that they need to be a part of PTA, look at the children’s report cards, make sure they’re doing their homework.

“When we watch third world country people come to America and become educational superpowers as America resets on its stale laurels and watches the rest of the world it’s because we have a problem in our community,” Murphy said. “We’re depending on the American system to educate our children and we’ve fallen behind.”

She remembered the days when schools in Natchez did not take a backseat to anything.

“You’ve got to stop me from having this nightmare,” she said.

She said to focus on the important issues in the community: making education the priority.

“Let the work you do, speak for you.”