Persistence will overcome resistance. That was part of the message by the keynote speaker at the annual MLK Day event in Nashville, Monday night.
But before those words came out of the mouth of Bishop Charles Archer, those in attendance at the opening of the event at New Light CME Church saw the words in action.
The event has traditionally opened with the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and master of ceremonies Jason Williamson halted the singing after one verse, saying it was time to get on with the program.
But someone objected and persisted.
From the back of church auditorium came a voice. It was MLK event organizer Jimmie White who insisted that all three verses should be sung. Williamson tried to move on, but White persisted. Williamson then said that he hadn’t lived through everything that “Aunt Jimmie” had, and the crowd finished off the remaining verses. The volume grew by the addition of latecomers and by the now-inspired crowd.
After one year when it was held at the Sixth Street Auditorium, the MLK Day celebration was moved to the New Light CME Church where it was held again, Monday night.
Mayor Billy Ray Jones welcomed the audience, and a men’s choir from the church sang two spirited numbers.
Then Bishop Archer gave his talk. He was introduced by Williamson who described him as an ‘old Scrapper’ and SAU alumni who had been in the ministry for 36 years. “He is a family man,” Williamson said of the pastor of Victory Way Free Church of True Holiness in Nashville.
Archer said that people were sometimes opposed to change, and that it took the persistence of many people to enable people to have the opportunities they have today. He challenged the crowd to influence someone positively, like Dr. King did.
Some praise dance numbers were presented by Rykia Swift of New Testament House of Prayer; Wynetta Scott of First Providence Outreach Ministries; and Baili Wiley of the host church. Singers from the Dodson Street Church of Christ contributed a number.
MLK organizer Geneva Walton conducted a MLK tribute trivia quiz, and Jimmie White presented the Miriam Alston Award to Pearlie Snell, described as a community member who retired from her job and got busier serving her fellow citizens as a volunteer. The award goes to someone who embodies the spirit of Dr. King in service to their fellow citizens.
A closing prayer was given by Rev. Elroy Stewart, host pastor.
Then the crowd joined hands for the singing of “We Shall Overcome.”
All five verses.