‘The power is with you and me’: MLK Prayer Breakfast speaker offers thoughts on King’s legacy

Photos special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — Aaron Crutison, the featured speaker at the 34th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast in Dover, remembers being a little boy growing up in Memphis, Tenn. when Dr. King was killed less than a mile from his home. During his speech at the breakfast he admitted that, at that moment, he was too young to understand the chaos that resulted from Dr. King’s death on April 4, 1968.

“I didn’t know why momma was crying,” he said. “I didn’t understand why everyone was so distressed.”

Mr. Crutison said that it wasn’t until much later in his life that he gained a full appreciation for the Dr. King, and just what that fateful day had meant to the black community.

“I realized later that this was an extraordinary man who believed in humanity and gave his life so that others could live a life of equality,” he said.

The prayer breakfast, hosted by the Zeta Rho Lambda chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. drew about 700 people to the Modern Maturity Center on Monday morning. Mr. Crutison, who’s been a member of the fraternity for over 33 years, offered thoughts on the legacy left by Dr. King and mediations on the prayer breakfast’s theme of: ‘Remember, Celebrate, Act! A Day On, Not A Day Off!’

The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity bills itself as the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African American men. It was founded by seven men in 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Since then, 175,000 men have been initiated into the fraternity. There are now 353 college chapters on campuses and 339 alumni chapters in 45 states.

At the event, Master of Ceremonies Reverend Theodore Henderson introduced several musical acts, speakers, politicians and dignitaries. Dover High School Counselor Chris McGuire sang his original song “Free to Worship” which was followed with performances by the Dover High School Gospel choir and The Alpha Singers.

The Zeta Rho Lambda chapter of the fraternity also used the event to recognize the winner of their 2017 Achievement Award scholarship recipient, Nadeem Boggerty. Currently a junior at Dover High School, Mr. Boggerty was recognized because even with several extra-curricular activities, a job and a high level of community involvement, he maintains a honor student status. He’s been voted class president for three consecutive years and was recently inducted into the National Honor Society. Boggerty’s older brother, Latuan, won the same award three years ago.

Both Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen and Senator Tom Carper were also on hand at the event to offer their thoughts.

Mayor Christiansen celebrated Dr. King as one of America’s founding fathers, on par with to George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

“He challenged our nation to honor the most important tenets of the Declaration of Independence,” he said. “He encouraged America to live up to its promises of equality and justice for all.”

The event in Dover was Sen. Carper’s fourth breakfast honoring Dr. King that morning. He lamented having to follow speeches from Gov. Jack Markell at his first, Senator Chris Coons at his second, U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester at his third and Mr. Crutison because they’d all had such inspirational things to say.

Sen. Carper did reminisce about the first time he’d met Rep. Rochester for the first time 27 years prior at one of his town hall meetings. He said that, at the time, she was a young, pregnant, hardworking mother of a toddler seeking a career in politics. He was gratified to see her earlier that morning stirring enthusiasm by saying: “When Lisa goes to Washington…” which met with the popular refrain: “We all go to Washington”. He also took the opportunity to reflect on outgoing President Obama’s leadership.

“Someone asked me recently to tell them just one thing that President Obama did for this country,” he said. “How about offering us eight great years of service without one single scintilla of scandal?”

In his closing remarks, Mr. Crutison extolled the virtues on “not taking a day off”. He said that while the black community has continued to give their lives for the country that they love, they’ve yet to reap the harvest of their work.

“But I have hope this morning,” he said. “I hope that while we remember, we know that the power is with you and me. If those elected to represent us fail on the most basic, essential basis, we, the people, have the power to change those elected officials. That’s why we cannot afford to take a day off.”

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