Fairfax NAACP's Salute to Dr. King Looks Forward to Living Out Dream


(Monday, January 21, 2008 8:38 PM EST)

The Fairfax County branch of the NAACP's tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., held Jan. 21 at First Baptist Church of Vienna, celebrated the civil rights leader's life and accomplishments, and recognized the progress that has been made toward racial equality since his famous speech.

But speakers reminded the congregation that King's dream has not been completely realized, and that there is still a lot of work to be done.

“After my 78 years, I'm still looking for a level playing field,” said Tom Wilkins, executive committee member of the Fairfax branch of the NAACP. “Much has been done, but much more needs to be done. ”

With county government budget cuts looming in Fairfax County, and the possibility of cuts in public education programs, speakers stressed how important it is for the community to get involved.

“Don't get excited about things that happened 20 years ago,” said First Baptist Church of Vienna Pastor Rev. Kenny Smith. “Take time now and go talk to the Board of Supervisors, the School Board. These cuts have long term effects.”

Fairfax's elected officials' comments at the tribute resonated this message.

“The important thing to do is actually live out [Martin Luther King's] dream,” said Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill). “We need to stand up.”

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Gerald Connolly (D) told the congregation to look beyond King's “I Have a Dream” speech and to remember words from his letters from Birmingham jail: “Injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere.”

He urged everyone to, like King, seek justice, even when it isn't easy.

Although the tribute made it clear that King's dream of equality among all people has not yet come true, the speakers were optimistic that believing the dream and acting on the dream would result in progress.

“We have the ability to change the direction of humanity,” said guest speaker Rev. Eugene Johnson, pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Centreville. “We must believe in the dream. We will be able to have a level playing field. We will be able to say we have equal entitlement. Unless we believe in the dream, we forsake the dream.”

Rev. Mary Smith, Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald Connolly, First Baptist Church of Vienna Pastor Kenny Smith and the church's office manager, Sharron Terry, gather after the tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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