To live as if Martin Luther King Jr. were looking over your shoulder

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:45

    WARWICK-A celebration of life was held Monday in the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Union African Methodist Episcopal Church in Warwick. The ceremony was led by the church's pastor, the Rev. Mashona Davis, and included speakers whose message of hope was summed up by her father, the Rev. Joseph Walston of Brooklyn, as "to fight the good fight." The Rev. Patricia McLeod of Chestnut, N.J., and the executive director of the Edwin Gould Academy, shared a story of a student she knew who did not appreciate the opportunity he was given. She said the lessons she learned from the slain civil rights leader were very much on her mind when she spoke to the student. "Your ancestors, my ancestors, died so that you could have an education," McLeod recalled. "Can you understand that? Someone died so that you could be here." Praises of "Amen" and "Hallelujah" filled the room. The service attracted numerous public figures from Warwick, including Village Mayor Michael Newhard, Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, Town Justice Peter Barlet and Douglas Stage, president of the Warwick Lions Club. Each spoke to a congregation of many cultures about the man that brought them together. For his homily, Walston stood up before this crowded little church and spoke with such spirit as if King was looking over his shoulder. He said that we, as a society, need to "step out of our comfort zones ... and never tire of doing what is right...." Walston recalled King's message to "forgive our enemies," and he reminded those who listened to him that "something good always comes out of something bad." The reverend also noted how in the classic film, "It's a Wonderful Life," an angel gave Jimmy Stewart's character a chance to see what the world would be without him. And then Walston asked, "What would the nation be like today without (Martin Luther King Jr.)"?