Judge reflects on Dr. King’s dream at retirees’ event
The ecumenical tribute was celebrated at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, the Rev. Edwin Coffie’s pastoral ministry. The gathering was attended by clergy, laypersons, community leaders, and elected officials.
The event has been sponsored for the past 28 years by the New York City Transit Retirees of Florida (NYCTROF).
While Dr. King’s dream is still working, NYCTROF President Marie McCray took the liberty of quoting Dr. King, saying “Now, it’s still the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice and intolerance to the solid rock of brotherhood.”
Director Adrian Worsley, conducting the Ecumenical Choir’s rendition of “How I Got Over,” provided a backdrop for the speaker’s introduction by Joyce Roach of the New York City Transit Retirees of Florida.
Roach said, “We sit here today because our ancestors got over. “Some were free. Some were slaves. But, nevertheless, history has brought us thus far,” she said. “And, Martin Luther King is one of those who sacrificed his life to help us get over.
“Today, I present to you, one, who – like all of us – has benefited from our ancestors’ struggles,” Roach continued.
“I present to you a phenomenal woman, the Honorable Judge Dawn P. Fields,” Roach affirmed.
THE ONLY ONE
The judge occasionally refrained with quips of humor. Moreover, she said, “Every time I hear the words, ‘Judge Dawn P. Fields,’ I swell up with pride because all the people that had to make beds, had to say, ‘ Yes, sir’.
All the people that had to do the right thing at the right time to get me here, I’m forever grateful,” the judge added.
“Every single time I zip that robe up, I say, ‘God, go before me, and stay with me, and help me do the right thing’ because I realize my very signature on the line can change a person’s life forever.”
Judge Fields shared with her listeners that she is the only Black judge within the four counties of Flagler, Putnam, St. John and Volusia, and she will be retiring this December after serving over 30 years in the system.
“I’m the only one who looks like me in the judicial circuit,” she asserted.
JUDGE’S STORIED CAREER
She announced that there is someone who is running for the position.
Judge Fields could not endorse or support the candidate, who was sitting directly in front of me in the second row. But the judge was only privy to introduce Joan Anthony.
Judge Fields, a Daytona Beach native, earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Georgia at Athens.
Her work in the Seventh Judicial Circuit has focused as a juvenile and misdemeanor trial attorney, misdemeanor division chief, felony trial attorney, a special prosecutor in the sex crimes division, and in the felony trial division. And, she’s formerly a high school math teacher.
“On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated,” she said. “On April 3, 1968, he delivered one of his famous speeches, ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.’
“He talked about a lot of things. But the thing that I want to emphasize in this short time,” expressed the judge, “is he talked about the boycott. He talked about taking your money from the traditional White-owned banks and taking it to traditional Black-owned banks.
“He talked about boycotting Wonder Bread and Sealtest Milk, and stuff like that,” she monitored. “He talked about doing the right thing at the right time.”
DO THE RIGHT THING
Judge Fields continued to say, “He said, we don’t have to throw Molotov cocktails. We don’t have to riot in the streets. That’s not the right thing at this time. What we need to do to do the right thing at this time is to use our economic resources to show the people that we are meant to be here.
“Sometimes, we think it’s not the right time because there’s always tomorrow,” Judge Fields added. “That man (Dr. King) died the day after he delivered his ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop’ speech…This is the right time to do the right thing,” she urged.
Others contributing to the ecumenical service were the Rev. Edwin Coffie with the invocation; Elder Faye Dadzie, Hope Fellowship Church, the Old Testament reading; the Rev. Reginald Bynum, Palm Coast United Methodist Church, New Testament reading; Edmund G. Pinto Jr., NYCTROF, the offering dedicated to the Flagler Free Clinic of Bunnell; and the Rev. Henry Watson, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, with the benediction.
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Happy anniversary to Lennie and Vivian Rowe, Feb. 5.