Keeping the dream alive: Life of MLK remembered at Delaware Public Archives

John Moore speaks during a Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance at the Delaware Archives on Saturday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — The eloquent words from some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most inspirational speeches came out of John Moore Sr.’s mouth and landed with an emotional, lasting impact on the people gathered at the Delaware Archives Building on Saturday morning.

As Mr. Moore said, 50 years after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. King on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, the civil rights leader’s words and peaceful protests still have relevance today.

About 60 people attended a program hosted by Mr. Moore titled “The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” and got a chance to revisit some of the more turbulent times in America as the black community fought for equal rights.

Mr. Moore, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and the youth pastor for Calvary Baptist Church in Dover from January 2000 to December 2017, sees parallels in the times when Dr. King rose to prominence in the late 1950s and ’60s to what the nation is still dealing with today.

“When you think about what the kids are dealing with in regards to gun violence and the Black Lives Matter movements (of today), it’s really no different than what they were dealing with back in Selma, Alabama, where Jimmie Lee Jackson got killed because he was trying to protect his mother (in 1965), who was trying to get the ability to vote,” Mr. Moore said.

“That violence kind of reflects what’s happening today. We have to continue to be vigilant and make sure our kids are in safe places.”

Jeff Fleming, of Dover, sat in the audience at the Delaware Archives Building and was left with the same thoughts — that times really haven’t changed very much in the 50 years since Dr. King’s death.

“I’m glad that (Mr. Moore) is doing these type of presentations, not only with us adults, but going into schools and making sure he is in touch with the young people,” Mr. Fleming said. “It’s very poignant and I’m a glad to be a part of that.

“You can see what’s happening in the world today. It seems like the same type of (racist) mentality is reviving and coming back. So, Dr. King’s words are just as relevant today as they were 50 years ago.”

The presentation that Mr. Moore gave on Saturday morning was the 62nd that he has delivered remembering the life and times of MLK since January.

The native of Philadelphia said it never gets old, especially since his audiences constantly change from place to place, whether it be a difference in age or race.

“It’s natural for me to have the enthusiasm for it,” said Mr. Moore, who currently serves as the vice president for resource development and strategic partnerships for the United Way of Delaware. “You always hear that statement that when you’re working at something but you’re enjoying it, it doesn’t feel like work. That’s what these speeches do for me.

“Every time I deliver them it’s such a spiritual experience and it gives me such energy that I do it and I never get tired.”

Mr. Moore chronicled Dr. King’s life from his childhood in Atlanta, Georgia, to his tragic and untimely death 39 years later in Memphis.

He recited word-for-word, and with a cadence and accent that seemed to channel Dr. King’s spirit, his “I Have a Dream” speech from the March on Washington in 1963, and even his final one, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” that he delivered in Memphis on April 3, 1968, which many believe foreshadowed his own death which happened the very next day.

In that speech, Dr. King said, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place.

“But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land.”

Mr. Moore’s presentation on Saturday drew a standing ovation from a crowd that was moved by his words and remembrances of the civil rights legend.
Velma Robinson said that Mr. Moore was doing the community a great service by keeping Dr. King’s words — and dream — alive.

“It was a presentation which made us feel that we’ve got to do more than we’re doing for our children — because children do not get the history,” she said. “See, our children got it from their parents, my parents got it from their parents and it was carried over.

“But now, with TVs and everything else that’s going on, the children do not know their history.”

Dover City Councilman Brian Lewis, who attended the program along with fellow Councilman David Anderson, said he got chills listening to Mr. Moore deliver the words of Dr. King so eloquently.

“Like Martin Luther King Jr., Reverend Moore is a hero of mine because of the fact that he’s keeping the dream alive,” Mr. Lewis said. “I’m a great supporter of inspirational speakers like John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. — and I believe that (Rev. Moore) now is part of that group.”

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