The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s strides to advance the status of African-Americans in this country are being called to mind today in communities across Long Island.
“We need to remember the lessons we learned during Dr. King’s time and keep vigilant so the clock doesn’t turn backward,” Huntington chapter NAACP president Darryl Dodson said. “We need to recognize the past and prepare for the future.”
This was the theme of the NAACP’s Jubilee Service honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, celebrated Monday night at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Huntington.
The Huntington chapter has been celebrating the jubilee for more than 15 years. This was the second year the service was held at the Bethel A.M.E.
“We’re trying to keep the focus of Dr. King’s dream alive,” said Rev. Larry Jennings, Bethel’s pastor, who presided over the ceremony.
Several local spiritual and political leaders attended, including U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington).
“Dr. King had a dream, and it really was the American dream,” Israel said during his remarks. “We are rebuilding his American dream, but we still have work to do.”
Israel’s talk was followed by a lively musical performance from Bethel A.M.E. Church men’s choir and a stirring solo rendition of “How Great Thou Art.”
The evening concluded with an address from the keynote speaker, the Rev. Luonne Abram Rouse, pastor of United Methodist Church of Huntington. Rouse’s message underlined the evening’s focus on remembering King’s legacy and continuing his work.
“If one segment of our society isn’t free, then none of us are free,” Rouse said. “We still have to overcome the obstacles we face right here in Huntington.”
Rouse ended his address with a call to action, encouraging the congregation to participate in the efforts of the NAACP's local chapter.
“We still have too much tension right here at home,” Rouse said. “We need to remove the tension and move into a positive peace.”
Above, the Rev. Larry Jennings, right, pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Huntington, presides over a service in his sanctuary honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The Rev. Luonne Abram Rouse, seated, pastor of United Methodist Church of Huntington, gave the keynote address.