The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was remembered at a Sunday church service as a civil rights leader who left behind a legacy that should inspire others to follow his example.
“He gave us a good example and a profound legacy. We need to dream big, dreams that will transform humanity,” the Rev. John Ekwoanya said during service at St. John of God Roman Catholic Church in Central Islip.
His comments came during a part of the service honoring King, who at age 35 became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated in 1968.
“He was a brave man. He died young,” Ekwoanya said after reading a brief biography of King. He said that King’s message was of nonviolence and equality.
“Dr. King was a brave man who fought for equal rights for all and ultimately gave his life for his beliefs,” said parishioner Patricia Paul, 43, of Central Islip. “A nonviolent preacher who used words to fight.”
King led both the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, during which he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. He also founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957.
“He meant rights for everyone,” said parishioner Irene Knibb, 71, of Central Islip.
King was shot and killed by James Earl Ray while standing on the second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
“He was an inspiration to do good,” said parishioner Milton Joseph of Central Islip, who said that King did God’s work.
Brentwood resident Gary Dumornay, 51, said the church tribute was fitting and that he hoped it would have an impact on young churchgoers.