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Monday, November 24, 2014
Martin Luther King Day
Valley Stream religious leaders celebrate King's legacy
Susan Grieco/Herald
The Rev. Philip Jones led the congregation in song.

Communities across the country honored and celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday as a pioneer in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and the man who dreamed of a world where his four children would not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

The Valley Stream Religious Council hosted its annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration Monday afternoon at the Valley Stream Presbyterian Church on South Central Avenue. Dozens of religious leaders and community members attended the event, which featured singing, dancing and speeches.

The Rev. Kirk Lyons, of the Brothers Keeper Organization, was the event’s featured speaker. Brothers Keeper has established a street ministry called Boots on the Ground, where they lead a team of men every Friday at midnight through some of the more violent neighborhoods in Hempstead to pray for young men.

Lyons delivered an inspired message that kept everyone in the audience entranced. “Today is not just about remembering Martin,” he said. “If we reduce this day to that, it functions as mere memory and less of a reminder. You see, memory emphasizes our distance from the past. The reminder connects us to the past; it recalls our responsibility to [the past].”

Monday was a day to remind Americans about the work of people like Frederick Douglass, Nat Turner and Harriet Tubman, Lyons said. He closed his message by issuing a report card of issues that were prevalent in the 1960s which still exist today.

“We elected and re-elected the nation’s first African American president,” he said. “Now although that would seem like an ‘A’ what it has really done has exposed a lot of the racial prejudices that have been lurking in the shadows. That, my friends, would be an ‘F.’”

Sister Margie Kelly of Holy Name of Mary Church kicked off the event with a short speech about the importance of the day. “Today we honor the heroic stance taken by Dr. Martin Luther King and to pray that we might stand firm for justice for every person, for mercy and forgiveness for those who harm us, for protection of all human life and above all, for love in the face of persecution and even death,” she said.

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