DSU annual event celebrates King’s legacy

DOVER — The Rev. Ellis B. Louden cast a wary eye toward a potentially bright future on Monday afternoon.

The keynote speaker at the 31st annual Celebrate the Dream program celebrating the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. passionately remarked that “We can not and will not allow racism and bigotry to have the last say.”

Any substantial progress will follow some healing, the Rev. Louden said, after a campaign season full of insults and belittlement.

Also, he described President elect-Donald Trump’s Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions’ civil rights record as “abysmal.”

“We must learn to grow among ourselves and appreciate diversity …,” the Mount Zion AME Church pastor said during a nearly two-hour program.

The Mt. Zion AME Church Children’s Choir performs at the Celebrate the Dream program on Monday at Delaware State University. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

“A democratic society can not endure without enlightened people.”

The recent loss of his 100-year-old father was indicative of a dying generation of African-Americans who paved the way for future inclusion, education and opportunity that continues today. It’s up to all community members to keep their legacy alive, Rev. Louden said before a crowd of up to 500 inside DSU’s Theater, Education and Humanities Building.

“We can’t do solo work, we have to work as a choir,” Rev. Louden said.

Paying tribute to her predecessors, U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester said, “I’m here because of standing on the shoulders of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and those who came before us.”

While the celebration was “a day of service and reflection,” Rep. Blunt Rochester reminded the audience that “it’s also about action.”

Delaware’s first African-American and female congresswoman asked attendees to join her in a quest to bring opportunity to all, open more doors, break down barriers and offered that “There’s going to be a lot of work to do.”

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, who first met Rep. Blunt Rochester in 1988 and quickly added her to his legislative team, described her as possessing a “heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”

Gov.-elect John Carney described Rep. Blunt Rochester’s “very unique perspective” and that she “reminds us of the progress we continue to make. She’s going to do a great job.”

The push for equality over at least the next four years will be to “help strengthen institutions such as Delaware State University and public schools that provide vehicles of opportunity for all our kids,” Delaware’s top elected state official said.

The way state Sen. Brian Bushweller see it, more folks than ever realize the importance of celebrating Dr. King’s impact that continues today.

“This is a fabulous way to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s [achievements],” Sen. Bushweller said. “I’ve attended this for many years and it’s encouraging to me how every year the auditorium gets fuller and fuller.”

The governor-elect noted the entertaining lineup of performers that included pianist Carlos Holmes, Sankofa String Orchestra and African Dance Company, DSU student Amani Mason with the national anthem, the Mt. Zion AME Church Children’s Choir and the DSU Concert Choir.

After the Rev. John Moore (who added his spot on impression of Dr. King at times) read a proclamation from Gov. Jack Markell recognizing Dover Inner City Cultural League founder and past city councilman Reuben Salters’ contribution civic and cultural contributions to the City of Dover and State of Delaware, the honoree responded with a succinct, “Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

According to Delaware State University President Dr. Harry Williams, “When you walk on the campus of Delaware State University we celebrate [Dr. King’s] legacy every single day.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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