Jan 162017
 

 

Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University, delivers his keynote address during the the 31st annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. The event featured addresses by Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University, mayor Mitch Landrieu. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

At the 31st annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Official Day celebration, speakers remembered King’s legacy by focusing on the idea of “togetherness,” an idea from one of King’s last written works. This idea encompasses the development of communities despite differences of opinion, religion, race or any other category.

The event’s keynote speaker was Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, the president of Dillard University. Dr. Kimbrough organized his speech around the concept of unenforceable togetherness, developed from Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 text “Where do we go from here? Chaos or Community?”

Citing current events, Dr. Kimbrough sees the world leaning more towards chaos. This chaos, according to him, derives from intolerance and living in our own, safe bubbles.

Dr. Kimbrough cites the tensions around the upcoming presidential administration as the source of much chaos in this country.

“Over the past few months tension increases as we prepare for a new administration to take office this week. People are rampantly taking sides in what is shaping up to be four years of struggle,” Kimbrough said. “It follows a contentious campaign period profiled by lots of character assassination and we talked about people, considering who is the hero.”

There has been backlash against people who have even met with the president-elect.

“People are attacking people like Kanye and Jim Brown and Steve Harvey, denigrating them as ‘race traitors’ for meeting with the incoming administration,” Kimbrough said.

One of the points Kimbrough harps on is the many problems with social media. It has shown to be a big avenue for chaos and separation it allows individuals to live in a bubble, only surrounding themselves with things that fit their worldview, not necessarily the truth. Kimbrough quotes president Obama’s farewell address to further this point.

“It’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or on a college campus or places of worship or especially our social media feeds,” Kimbrough said. “And increasingly we’ve become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting information, whether true or not, fits our opinions instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.”

Speakers harped on the importance of discomfort, stepping out of your comfort zone to increase a dialogue and develop a sense of community.

“We have to learn how to get comfortable in our discomfort,” said Judy Reese Morris, Deputy mayor of citywide initiatives.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu suggested what makes us different is an asset.

“Diversity is a strength, not a weakness,” Landrieu said.

Pastor Samuel Butler delivers one final benediction at the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on Claiborne avenue. This was a part of the 31st annual Martin Luther King Jr. Official Day Celebration. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, right, shakes hands with Theo George, left, as the mayor makes his way down Loyola avenue. City and faith leaders marched with local schools and fraternal organizations to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on Claiborne avenue. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Martin Luther King Jr. high school marching band leads the parade down Loyola avenue after the ceremony concluded. The band paraded to the Martin Luther King Jr. monument on Claiborne avenue, where there was a wreath-laying ceremony. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Monic Stock climbs to get a better view of the 31st annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at New Orleans’ City Hall. The event featured addresses by Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University, mayor Mitch Landrieu. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

City and faith leaders carry a banner dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. down Loyola avenue to Claiborne. There Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Archbishop Gregory Aymond, and Pastor Samuel Butler laid a wreath in King’s honor. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

Michaela Harrison sings “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during the 31st annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. The event featured addresses by Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University, mayor Mitch Landrieu. (Zach Brien, UptownMessenger.com)

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