Reflections on the MLK Memorial Dedication
Reflections on the MLK Memorial Dedication
By Bashon Mann, Provision Advisors, co-Founder
(On October 16th, 2011 the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial was dedicated on the National Mall. A ProVision Advisor founder, Mr. Bashon Mann served as an Executive Producer of the event working alongside the MLK Jr Memorial Foundation. What follows are his thoughts on the day.)
I believe it was a 4am call time on the morning of the dedication, and as I look back on my memories of the day I realize there was so much happening around me, so much history taking shape. It was all I could do to stop briefly to understand and appreciate the moment I was in.
And so I came to have several distinct moments of pause throughout this day; a day full of great fervor and splendor. No Ms. Franklin I won't drive too fast. Yes, Ambassador Young, this in fact IS a GREAT day. And as a wheelchair-bound Reverend Joseph Lowery was placed next to me in the golf cart I was assigned to drive by the Secret Service as he was to meet the President, I urged his handlers I would need to move expeditiously as the POTUS motorcade was making its way toward the dedication site. The Reverend turned to me and with a steady tenor in his voice he matter-of-factly noted, "young man, I am 90 years old, why you would think I am rushing for anyone on this day? I am right where I need to be as God has brought me here." The Reverend and I moved slowly and deliberately to where the President would meet him, just as God intended. In that golf cart, Reverend Lowery left his handwritten notes on Hyatt Hotel stationary for the speech he had given that afternoon. I keep these notes sealed in a safe place, pulling them out specifically on this day. He writes, "While the presence of this imposing structure forever reminds us of the long and perilous journey the struggle has led us thus far, it also points us toward the future. How marvelous that we have come thus far in the words of that familiar hymn, "thru many dangers toils and snares..." It is also marvelous that we are aware of the unfinished task -- In the midst of amazing truth -- that this African American preacher -- who never held public or political office -- is recognized here among fathers of our country -- indeed since his leadership gave birth to "new America" -- free of shackles, free of legal segregation, endows him as father of a new born nation; yet it is clear that this marvelous present is imperiled by forces determined to turn back the clock on a nation striding toward freedom. Yet our faith remains unshackled. Let me conclude my remarks within context of monumental Martin words -- that capture the spirit of my declaration - that while monumental presence whisper through mall and shouts through our consciousness about the past, it is true to claim for the future. We have come a long way, but a concise and concrete reminder of how much father we have to go is made clear and plain." And thus the Reverend continued, "so I close with Martin's eloquent words as he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. In Oslo, he declared, "I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept that the IS-ness of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal OUGHT-ness that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life which surrounds him. I refuse to accept the view that man is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that even amid today's bomb bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice lying prostrate on the blood flowing streets of nations can be lifted from the dust of shame to reign among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have meals for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, other centered men can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow down before the altars of God an be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the will of the land. I still believe that we shall overcome. This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom!
Provision Advisors proudly celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.