New Castle News

January 21, 2013

Photo Gallery, Story: Spirited local service pays tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

Kayleen Cubbal
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The Rev. David Young definitely knows how to bring down a house.

When he took his seat, sweat streaming from his face after a rousing 30-minute speech to honor slain Civil Rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King yesterday, Minister Vincent Wise, the event’s master of ceremonies, asked for a hand for Young, saying, “he poured it out for us.”

Wise didn’t need to ask for any applause, since those in attendance at Ebenezer Church of God in Christ on South Jefferson Street already were standing and cheering to recognize Young for his efforts.

Young and old, black and white, rich and poor, the 51-year-old founder and senior pastor of Prevailing Word World Outreach Center, brought them all together, in a speech that no doubt would have made King proud. Young sat, he stood, he stomped his feet, he got in the faces of his fellow clergy sharing the pulpit while seeking affirmation for his words, and he bounded between the pews, microphone in hand, to reach out to church-goers.

“I get caught up in the moment a bit, but I speak from the heart,” Young said. “My regard for Martin Luther King is as high as it could be, so I regarded speaking here today as a huge honor.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which officially will be marked today, is a federal holiday observed on the third Monday of January each year, near the time of King’s Jan. 15 birthday. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39.

Today also marks the inauguration of President Barack Obama, who will put his hand on King’s Bible during his swearing-in ceremony.

The celebration in Lawrence County continues today with the annual Freedom Walk. Marchers will meet at 9:30 a.m. at the West Side Primary Center, with the walk to start at 10 a.m. and end at the Diamond downtown.

Those in attendance yesterday were glued to Young’s words, as they were the inspirational speeches and songs of those who came before him during the 90-minute service.

Charles Polk served as chairperson for the event and, while admitting he was a bit nervous at first that it all would come together, “not one person I called said no,” he said, gesturing toward a pulpit filled with both black and white clergy.

He said his first act was to contact Wise at St. Paul Baptist Church to serve as master of ceremonies.

The Rev. Nathan Loudon of First Presbyterian Church delivered the “Litany of Commemoration,” noting in jest that he is 35 years old, the same age King was when he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

“But I’m just trying to keep peace at First Prebyterian Church,” he said, drawing a laugh from those in attendance.

 Loudon later stole the show when he led the singing of an inspirational song in which the entire crowd took part.

“In my opinion, Dr. Martin Luther King was one of the greatest men to walk the face of the earth,” he said, amid shouts of ‘amen’ from the congregation.

Young’s speech was titled, “The Upside Down Triangle,” referring to Maslow’s triangle, which deals with the theory of human motivation.

Young recalled when, as a youngster, he played “the king of the hill,” and “rough and tumble,” in which participants would do whatever was necessary to come out the winner.

“Dr. King called it the ‘drum major instinct,’ ” he said. “Everyone wants to be a leader. But to be a good leader, you need to be a good follower first.

“Martin Luther King was a great leader because he was willing to give up everything for what he believed in.”

Young said that King knew he was vulnerable to an assassin’s bullet, yet he never wavered in sharing his beliefs.

“He was such a powerful man, he could have taken his awards and his money and ridden off into the sunset with all of it,” he said. “Instead, he stayed and fought and he gave up everything because of it.

“But if people thought it would die when he died, the opposite happened — the Civil Rights movement didn’t die at all, it evolved.”

Young closed with one of King’s famous lines, which he said is one of his favorites from his childhood hero:

“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”