Tuesday, January 17, 2012

St. Augustine celebrates King Day -- Eubanks: Build a strong foundation for the future

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with pickets on Washington Street, St. Augustine, Florida, June 1964

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reacts in St. Augustine, Fla., after learning that the senate passed the civil rights bill, June 19, 1964. (AP Photo) Photo: STF, Anonymous / Beaumont

Read more: http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/photos/article/Dr-Martin-Luther-King-Jr-His-life-in-pictures-956071.php#ixzz1jl9L3zZu

Posted: January 16, 2012 - 11:45pm

Eubanks: Build a strong foundation for the future

The “gallant memories” of 400 years of black struggle for freedom by “dreamers and doers” should inspire future leaders, keynote speaker Gerald Eubanks said Monday at the 27th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration breakfast.

Eubanks, 71, a retired St. Johns County educator, asked his fellow African-Americans to make a positive impact.

“Or would you prefer to be mere spectators?” he said. “Stay connected. The result of our remaining an extended family is a mutual sense of self-worth and pride, and a lifetime of camaraderie.”

The slave revolts that began in the 1600s only ended at the Civil War, and he was “delightedly shocked” to read of them.

“Don’t forget your history and heritage,” he said.

Eubanks also praised the “foot soldiers” of the Civil Rights struggle of 1964, and he unrolled a long list containing the names of those who fought for freedom and justice.

“Some of them are here today,” he said, and he quoted from the poem “Invictus”: “My head is bloody, but unbowed.”

The event was sponsored by The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee of St. Johns County and its president, Sonee Carswell.

Temple Bet Yam’s Rabbi Mark Goldman compared King to a modern-day biblical prophet, “who heard and responded to the divine call, ‘Let my people go!’ He climbed mountains of human potential and his heavenly voice spoke truth to power. That’s his legacy. Together, let’s never deviate or detour from that path.”

St. Augustine Mayor Joe Boles spoke of the city’s efforts to build a new Civil Rights Museum in town by 2014 to commemorate the non-violent marches opposed by racist crowds and the resulting publicity that helped lead to passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Almarene T. Loundes said King had all the traits of a great leader: intelligence, confidence, charisma and determination to carry out his mission. “He was a man of integrity, a rare trait for leaders these days,” she said. “Reflect and act on Dr. King’s legacy. We’re here not only to celebrate the great man’s dream, but to live it as well.”

Music was provided by a young, professional Christian band, One Voice.

Diane Chase, a former Civil Rights foot soldier, said Eubanks graduated Excelsior High School in 1955 and graduated Morehouse College in 1959 — where he went to speeches made by King.

Eubanks earned his master’s degree in education from the University of North Florida.

He spent 30 years in St. Johns County schools and started several theater companies.

In his talk, Eubanks used props, as a professor would to make examples for students. At one point he compared unshucked ears of corn to one without its husk and showed that the kernels were different colors.

“Never judge anything by its cover or color,” he said. “Have dreams. But most importantly, follow those dreams. We must not continue to expect exceptions to be made for us. And you must not allow anyone to define you by race.”

He said part of the reason for failure in any community is a lack of initiative, planning and goal-setting.

“We must acquire a reality base and be willing to face the truth,” he said. “Truth is a very bright light. We have a new Three Rs now: respect, responsibility and restraint.”

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