Celebrating MLK’s legacy: Rev. Moore says message is more important than ever in Delaware

The Rev. John Moore stands at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama last year. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — The upcoming Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebrations on Jan. 15 promise to be more poignant than ever, considering April 4 will mark the 50th anniversary of the revered civil rights leader’s assassination.

The Rev. John Moore, who has been performing Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to inspire others since he was a teenager, said he will be sure to incorporate the historical milestone into his messages to crowds gathered at numerous events this year.

“My messaging throughout the year will be focused on the theme from the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, ‘Together we win with love for humanity,’ said Rev. Moore, of Dover. “I find this appropriate as we reflect on the question, ‘What has been accomplished by humanity in the 50 years since the demise of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?

“I personally find my mission to make his voice heard more imperative than ever before because as the years go by more and more people, especially youth, are beginning to lose touch with this critical component of American history.”

Rev. Moore has four big events scheduled for Dr. King’s birthday weekend: Jan. 13 — A Peace March from Crozier/STEM Academy in Chester, Pennsylvania; Jan. 15 — Keynote speaker for MLK Prayer Breakfast in Salem, New Jersey; Guest speaker at MLK Celebration at Wyoming United Methodist Church as well as a MLK Presentation at the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing.

Rev. Moore said his portrayals of Dr. King will be even more significant for him this year due to some personal experiences he had last summer on an unforgettable journey to the south.

“What makes my performances even more relevant for me this year stems from my immediate past summertime journeys to Stone Mountain, Georgia (mentioned in the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech), Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (where MLK pastored alongside his father), the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama (where four little girls were killed), crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama (the sight of Bloody Sunday) and speaking from the pulpit and sitting in the very pastor’s study that was once used by Dr. King at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama (where MLK led the Montgomery Bus Boycott),” Rev. Moore said.

The celebration of Dr. King’s life goes far beyond his birthday on Jan. 15 for Rev. Moore.

He has been performing Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech for several years, ever since he decided to memorize it and deliver it in front of people as a teenager.

He was even invited to present it when the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial opened in Washington, D.C., in front an audience of 7,500 people, including Dr. King’s son and daughter.

“In my more than 20 years of reenacting MLK speeches, my goal has been and continues to be preserving Dr. King’s legacy and keeping his DREAM alive,” Rev. Moore said. “Of course, the celebration of his legacy is not a one-day event for me.

“I am busiest between January and March to include numerous already booked engagements for this year’s Black History Month celebrations. I will be getting an early start for the King celebrations this year by judging an oratorical contest (today).”

Along with his speeches, Rev. Moore also gives his audiences’ sound advice based on the acronym, DREAM.

D — Be Dedicated. Give it all you’ve got.

R — Be Resilient. Overcome the challenges.

E — Be Excited about living. Get the most out of it.

A — The right Attitude will transform the darker todays into brighter tomorrows.

M — Be Motivated yourself. Wait for no one to do anything for you.

While this month is a time to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday and legacy, April will be a time to reflect on his life and what America has accomplished as a society over the 50 years after his death.

Rev. Moore is excited about a couple of events that he has on his calendar on April 4, the anniversary of MLK’s assassination.

“They include a reenactment of his final speech, ‘The Mountain Top,’ at the Willow Dale Chapel in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, where I will be using a podium that MLK spoke from during a visit to a local school there in 1967,” he said.

“Also on that day I will actually be portraying Dr. King in character as if he has come back to life and be interviewed by one of the leading Civil Rights lawyers at Widener Law School for the Delaware State Bar Association’s CLE (Continuing Legal Education) seminar.”

Rev. Moore has certainly answered the call when it comes to keeping Dr. King’s legacy alive.

“Although I never met him, Dr. King was a mentor to me,” said Rev. Moore. “I began practicing and memorizing his speeches, never realizing I’d be doing this.”

35th annual prayer breakfast

The biggest celebration in Dover promises to be the Zeta Rho Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s 35th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast on Monday, Jan. 15.

The prayer breakfast will take place at the Modern Maturity Center at 1121 Forrest Ave. and could attract more than 800 attendees to hear the featured speaker, Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who is the presiding Prelate for the sixth Episcopal District of the American Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church.

The event will also feature several musical acts, speakers, politicians and dignitaries. Tickets cost $22 and can be purchased from Nathaniel Williams at 302-242-8783 or willine2@msn.com.

Doors will open for the prayer breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and the program will begin at 8:30.

Mr. Williams said the event’s proud tradition keeps it going.

“We just want to keep Dr. King’s message out front and center so that people don’t forget,” he said. “There have obviously been a lot of changes recently when it comes to politics.

“So we want to get the message out to young people so we can help them understand how people had to struggle for things in the past so they won’t take it for granted.”

Church to honor MLK

Wyoming United Methodist Church will host an interdenominational and multi-cultural celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including worship, special presentations, guest speakers and an agape meal on Jan. 15 at 3 p.m.

Rev. Moore, Rev. Dean Snyder and Rev. Lester Justice will speak at the event, which will also feature: Rev. Rita Paige (Star Hill AME); Rev. Gary Meekins (Bethel and Mount Calvary UMC); ‘Seeds of Faith’ dance team; Star Hill AME

Rebirth Gospel Choir, Ruth Shelton, director; Rev. Elmer Davis (Whatcoat UMC Dover); Rev. Frederick Wessell and Rev. Dave Hill (Wyoming UMC).
Celebration on tap for Sussex

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Organization of Sussex County invites the public to participate in its 26th annual Commemorative Weekend Celebration in honor of the late civil rights leader on Jan. 13-15.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Speak up! Let us not be silent about things that matter.”

The celebration organization said that in these times of turmoil, division and uncertainty, we must all lift our voices in support of the values of peace, love, unity and equality that were espoused by Dr. King.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Dr. King said. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

MLK Commemorative Weekend Celebration festivities will begin on Saturday, Jan. 13, with a parade in Lewes at 11 a.m. Individuals and organizations are invited to participate.

Then, at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 13, the annual banquet will be held at the Cheer Center, located at 20520 Sand Hill Road in Georgetown.

Dr. Tony Allen, the newly appointed Provost at Delaware State University, will serve as the keynote speaker at the banquet.

The MLK celebration will conclude on Monday, Jan. 15, with a holiday community worship service at 10 a.m. at Long Neck United Methodist Church, located at 32071 Long Neck Road in Millsboro.

The Rev. Cynthia Daniels of Friendship Baptist Church in Lewes will bring the message accompanied by the Friendship Baptist Choir.

Milford to host celebration

The Milford Area Ministerial Association will host its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Monday, Jan. 15, from noon until 1 p.m. at the Benjamin Banneker Elementary School, located at 449 North St. in Milford. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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