LaToya Caesar delivers message of hope for the future during Friday’s MLK Celebration at Mitchell Community College. (Photo/Amanda Caldwell Photography)

BY BRANDY TEMPLETON

Mitchell Community College kicked off a weekend of community events dedicated to celebrating the life, work and dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Friday evening.

A diverse crowd gathered in gathered at Shearer Hall on the Statesville campus to reflect on the past and consider a present and future where racial equity is the hallmark of our nation

La Fonda Cornelius belted out Sam Cooke’s rendition of “This Little Light of Mine,” and later performed Mavis Staples’ version of “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

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‘Imagine a world where every child has a champion’

During a keynote address, Iredell-Statesville Schools District Liaison for Community Engagement LaToya Caesar focused on the “what ifs” instead of lamenting about the racial strife of the civil rights movement. Her message was one of inspiration and hope for a better future— a future that she said Dr. King would want for his own offspring.

She asked the audience to imagine the Atlanta native sitting on his porch with children and grandchildren today, at the age 90, discussing whether the dream he so eloquently described in a speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, had been realized.

“The question is,” Caesar asked, “how much better is the world today in fostering the dreams of our children? How much closer are we to having achieved the dream this great man lived and ultimately died for?”

The answers, she concluded, are good in some areas and troubling in others. Citing statistics on maternal mortality, school discipline, incarceration and college graduation rates, Caesar painted a picture in which people of color continue to face barriers that prevent our nation from achieving the dream so eloquently described by Dr. King. 

“The truth is that the color of the skin that you were genetically assigned and the place where you grew up is still a predictor of the major outcomes of your life,” she explained.

Caesar asked everyone present to imagine the change that would occur if people would get out of their comfort zones, help others — and consider the advantages some people enjoy over others by virtue of their skin color.

Achieving the dream starts with honest self-dialogue, Caesar explained.

“Imagine a world where irrespective of external factors, you could soar to the highest heights in this life,” she said. “Imagine a world where every child has a champion willing to step out of their own comfort and privilege in order to help them achieve their dreams. Imagine a world where, for the sake of our children, we were willing to disrupt systems and to speak up when instances of inequality occurred before us. Imagine if each of us used the platform that we’ve been given in life not just to enjoy the amenities it comes with, but to encourage the achievements of another. Imagine a world where we were all brave enough to reflect on our own inner biases and have honest conversations with each other about our fears, about the stereotypes we still carry.”

After Caesar finished speaking, Dr. King’s powerful voice was broadcast across the auditorium as moving statements from his “I Have a Dream” speech were mixed with cheers from the past.

“Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood,” King said.

READ LaTOYA CAESAR’S ENTIRE ADDRESS: HERE


Photos By Amanda Caldwell Photography

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