ELKHART — Stricken by numerous acts of violence and by grief in recent months, the Elkhart community celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by talking about the issue of violence and the work that must come in making the city a better place.
More than 20 community members came out Monday morning, Jan. 20, and marched from the Civic Plaza downtown to Community Missionary Baptist Church as part of Elkhart’s Black Expo Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
Many more, many of them children, packed the church for a program that included remarks from U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore.
The program is geared primarily toward children, who don’t go to school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day as observance of the federal holiday, so they can learn about the importance of King’s legacy, said Arvis Dawson, executive vice chair of Indiana Black Expo.
During his speech, Moore seized the opportunity of celebrating King as an advocate for equal rights and against violence to talk about violence in the community.
“I am really concerned about the violence still occurring anytime in our city, some not so far away from this location, and most recently another occurring in another part of our city,” he said.
Moore said his office will continue to do everything in its power to prevent future acts of violence, though he admitted it’s easier said than done. He also encouraged the public to accept others equally and to be ready to offer help to those who need it in efforts to prevent other violent acts.
“If we’re going to prosper and grow, our city must be a city where all are welcome and all people are equal,” he said. “We must live in an environment where we are still willing to give our brothers and sisters a hand, carry them on our backs at a time of need.”
Keynote speaker Mauri Miller talked about the importance of being proactive in a community.
“Dr. King went where there was not path and he left the trail the we celebrate year after year,” said Miller, who grew up in Elkhart and now works at Faegre Baker Daniels, a law firm in Indianapolis. “There are opportunities to create you own path right here in Elkhart.”
Miller spoke of the advantage of living in a small community in which everyone is affected by others’ actions.
“The greatest thing about living in such a small, close-knit community is that everyone is in the position to make a change,” he said.
Miller talked about Sarah Crane as an example of how one person can inspire others, create a movement and bring the entire community together. He encouraged the members of the audience to think about how they can create their own legacy.
“You simply have to have a passion for something,” he said.