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King celebrations advocate open dialogue on race relations

By Yasmine Regester / January 22, 2016

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Temple Emanuel Rabbis Fred Guttman (left) and Andy Koren (right) stand alongside Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II (center), president of the North Carolina NAACP as Barber delivers a sermon during the temple’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Shabbat Service, Friday, January 15 in Greensboro.  Photo by Joe Daniels/Carolina Peacemaker

Temple Emanuel Rabbis Fred Guttman (left) and Andy Koren (right) stand alongside Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II (center), president of the North Carolina NAACP as Barber delivers a sermon during the temple’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Shabbat Service, Friday, January 15 in Greensboro. Photo by Joe Daniels/Carolina Peacemaker

Several celebrations commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were held across Greensboro beginning last weekend throughout the week. Among them were a parade, a city hosted breakfast, and religious services.

On Friday, Jan.15, members of Greensboro’s Jewish community and local residents gathered at the temple’s Jefferson Road campus to remember King and his work in social justice. Friday’s Shabbat service was held in collaboration with the N.C. NAACP to honor the civil rights legend.

“We’re reflecting on the progress made by the Civil Rights Movement, our current state, and rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of justice,” said Rabbi Fred Guttman of Temple Emanuel. “We recognize racial disparities continue to make our justice system unfair…”

Shabbat, or the Sabbath, is the seventh day of the Jewish week and is the day of rest and abstention from work as commanded by God. Shabbat involves two interrelated commandments: to remember (zachor) and to observe (shamor). Shabbat is a day of rest and celebration that begins on Friday at sunset and ends on the following evening after nightfall.

N.C. NAACP President, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, delivered the keynote address at Friday night’s service to a packed temple of about 500 people.
Barber delivered a message titled, “The Danger of America’s Misdiagnosis of Terrorism, Violence, and Injustice Necessitates a Moral Revival,” comparing recent talks on terrorism and applying that to the life and work of Dr. King.

Barber noted that Martin Luther King Day is often misconstrued as a celebration, a time to commemorate the past rather than commit to the future and to the movement for which Dr. King died.

“Prophetic hope calls into question the loyalty in the current legislative structure. A lot of people give platitudes to Dr. King, but if he were alive today he wouldn’t be invited to speak in those same spaces. His greatest gift was he refused to allow America to be ignorant to its real problems,” said Barber.

Barber asserted that America has experienced domestic terrorism from its own government and people long before foreign terrorists became the issue, ticking off a historical list of attacks made by the Ku Klux Klan, political violence and police killings of unarmed Black youth, to name a few.
“They talk about terrorism, violence and injustice as something coming from the outside, rather than inside. We must be clear about the root of terror. Terror doesn’t just come from other countries,” said Barber on how politicians are using terrorism to justify anti-immigration rhetoric.
Barber suggested that true followers of Dr. King’s message would not allow children to go hungry, deny people health care, and deny equal rights for women and gays.


The City of Greensboro’s Human Relations Commission held its annual MLK Day Breakfast at the Koury Convention Center, Monday morning before people started a day of community service.

The University of North Carolina Greensboro Chancellor, Dr. Frank Gilliam, delivered the keynote address at the breakfast telling the nearly 800 attendees to not be afraid to have those discussions about race.

“Dr. King tells us that progress is made by understanding our shared fate. You can’t just be concerned with your own side of town. If we address these problems together, we can accomplish so much more,” said Gilliam.

The legacy of King’s words lives on through the youth, said Gilliam, and it is critical that adults provide the narrative to help the youth succeed.
“We must prioritize racial disparities by framing the conversation around King’s themes,” said Gilliam.

The breakfast also included a performance by Stefan Stuber and the Grimsley High School Jazz Band, spoken word by Josephus III’s Gate City Youth Slam Team and a musical selection from Bennett College’s Belles of Harmony.


The N.C. NAACP is encouraging people to attend the 10th annual Moral March on Raleigh on February 13. Thousands of people from across the state and nation will come together for a massive voter education rally, a review of the policies of Governor McCrory and the N.C. General Assembly over the past four years and to hear the vision for a better state and world.




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