Daytona residents at King events had plenty to say about political controversies.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Hundreds gathered Monday at Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church to honor slain civil rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the federal holiday. But while they reflected on King and his legacy, there was concern about the nation’s current events, specifically this week’s change in power from President Barack Obama to Donald Trump.
MLK day events in Daytona Beach began with a breakfast, followed by a march, which started and ended at Allen Chapel. A worship service followed the march.
Trump vs. Lewis
Participants weighed in on the change in presidents and the controversy sparked after U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon, stated in a “Meet the Press’’ interview that Trump isn’t a “legitimate president.’’
After Lewis’ comments, Trump took to Twitter and said that Lewis was “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results.’’
“I respect John Lewis. I think that he had a point. Trump did the same thing with Obama questioning his credentials to be president. Lewis had a right to say what he did,” said the Rev. Nathan Mugala, pastor of Allen Chapel who chaired the Daytona MLK Scholarship Committee. He also is a member of the Black Clergy Alliance.
Resident Cheryl Henry-White stated, “On one front, it’s sad to see. At the end of the day, he is president. We must come to that reality. We have to support him, but we have the constitutional right to voice our opinions, but we must find common ground and come together to achieve what is best for the nation as a whole.”
Trump has also promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.
The loss of Obamacare could leave 20 million Americans without health care.
“It is a concern for those who fully and partially depend on it. It’s great to say that you have a plan but you have to show it. You need to show alternatives of what could work, what could be tweaked but you can’t take it off the table unless you have a full resolution in place. It doesn’t make sense to ax it, especially for those with pre-existing conditions,” Henry-White stated.
“They haven’t come up with a solution yet. They say they want to get rid of it, but they can’t tell us what their plans are. I don’t think that they have a plan to repeal it or come up with something better,” added Henry-White.
Reflecting on King’s legacy
Turning their attention to MLK Day, locals were proud to get out and commemorate King’s legacy.
“It’s important just to come together. This is what his legacy is about. It’s about community and everyone coming together,” said Taneshia Williams.
Shawn Holmes added, “It’s absolutely important when you think about everything King accomplished. It’s important for the entire human race. He wanted everyone to be able to function together and for people to look past the color and gender.”
Even young people felt honored to participate.
“It’s about coming together. Look, it’s Blacks and Whites marching together…What his dream was about,” remarked Miracle Dowdell, who attends Warner Christian Academy.
Bethune-Cookman University student William Gomillion stated, “It’s important to honor Dr. King who fought for us to be together. He did a lot to make things better for us.’’
What would King say?
Resident also reflected on what King’s response would have been about today’s issues if he had lived to see them. In many cases racism, inequality, injustice still exists.
“It’s hard to say. You will always have changes over time. Even with leadership, sometimes you see changes with development of people and growth of our nation. I think he would still be in a leadership role and pushing for change. It’s hard to change people without people wanting to change,” commented Holmes.
Williams reflected, “I think he would be disappointed about some things. It’s been a lot of years but still a lot hasn’t changed.”
Henry-White added, “He would be doing the same things he did still fighting for the rights of the people.”
‘Back to the basics’
Mugala believes that King would want to see people get back to the basics.
“I think one of the things that Dr. King would say is that we need to go back to the basics as a people. Family, church and community life have to become important again,” he said.
On the Daytona Beach King celebration, he stated, “This is a remarkable celebration. I think that we need to be venerable about what we do when we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I am glad that the community came together. Also, we must teach our younger generation to keep the dream going.’’
Henry-White hopes that next year’s MLK Day celebration will draw a larger crowd.
“We used to meet under the big tree at City Hall going back 30 years ago. It’s good that it is now a national holiday, but it’s a shame that more people aren’t coming out,” she noted.
“When it first started, we had people coming from everywhere,” she added. “We had all the schools and their bands as well as Bethune-Cookman. There were a lot of people like Dr. King who made sacrifices and lost their lives for our rights. I hope next year they will go back to it.”