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Bringing the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to life

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By Sandy Barnes

The voice of Martin Luther King Jr. rang out in the sanctuary of Evergreen Christian Church during a service celebrating his life on Monday night.

“Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that,” King said during one of the thousands of speeches he delivered during the civil rights movement he led in the 1960s.

“Tonight the focus is on nonviolence,” said Jackie Delafose, assistant principal of Conifer High School, who led the program featuring film clips of the civil rights icon.

As powerful images of King illuminated a screen in the sanctuary, a small gathering of people watched glimpses of his life and message.

King was strongly influenced by Ghandi, and by his upbringing in a family of Southern Baptist ministers, said Delafose.

“Dr. King grew up in an environment where much was expected,” she added.

After receiving his doctorate in theology from Boston University, King became a minister in Montgomery, Ala., in the 1950s. While there, he began his work in the civil rights movement, becoming president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

While surrounded by violence, King held fast to his belief in using nonviolent methods to bring about change, Delafose said.

The Rev. Duncan Miller of Evergreen Christian Church said that during his first ministry in Kansas City, he encountered people who hated King.

“They blamed him for race riots in Kansas City,” he said. “A man who preached nonviolence was blamed for riots.”

“I think about his emphasis on nonviolence,” Delafose said of King. “I think it’s so important today.”

Delafose will share her perspective on the life and work of King and its relevance in present society in an upcoming article that will appear in the Courier.