The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute and DinnerSunday January 25th 5:30 p.m. Hotel Den Haag – Wassenaar (formerly De Bijhorst) Zijdeweg 54 (just off the A-44 at the Bridge) 2245BZ Wassenaar Adults – €30 Children to 12 – €15
When one thinks about the Civil Rights Movement, there are no words. A people who were enslaved and freed and then forced to live in segregation or de-facto segregation said we can, we must be free, but the force we use will be “Soul Force.” Dr. King led that movement and the hundreds of thousands who followed him, shared his belief in non-violence and his love and commitment to the United States of America and the dignity of people everywhere.
He did something so American when America is at its best, its most principled and idealistic. He asked, in fact, he forced the nation to begin living out “the true meaning of the Dream” articulated in the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.”
Though he was assassinated on a spring Memphis evening, the 4th of April 1968, the Movement he led still inspires and challenges the way we live and what we teach our children.
Four days after his death, Rep. John Conyers called for the creation of a national holiday honoring Dr. King. In 1983, President Reagan signed legislation designating the third Monday of January as Martin Luther King Day. The first commemoration in the United States was in 1986. Here in the Hague, we have held a Tribute to Dr. King every year.
Over the years many people who were part of the Civil Rights Movement have joined us. This year, we are honored to bring back Professor Timuel Black.
“Tim” from the Southside of Chicago, turned 96 years “young” on December 7th. When I first spoke to him, he remarked “I’m old, but I’m never too old to keep on trying.” Recently, he was honored at the Library of Congress and this fall, he received an Honorary Degree from the University of Chicago, his alma mater. His papers are in the Du Sable Museum of Black History in Chicago. He is an Oral historian and the author of several volumes entitled “Bridges of Memory.” He is a former high school teacher and administrator, professor of anthropology and sociology and Dean of Wright Junior College in Chicago. He is also a Jazz historian.
Furthermore, he is a veteran of WWII – Normandy Beach, the Battle of the Bulge, the Liberation of Buchenwald and of Paris. As a soldier in the segregated US Army, he was profoundly affected by the discrimination he experienced and the human devastation he witnessed in the Buchenwald death camp. He resolved then to devote his life to peace and justice.
On the Liberation of Buchenwald, he said, “ If this could happen here, it could happen anywhere. It could happen to me. It could happen to black folk in America. I guess more than any single event, it was this sight that crystallized my determination to do as much as I could to bring about some sanity in a very insane world.”
Professor Black was the organizer of the March on Washington from Chicago and a colleague and friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He helped elect Carol Mosely- Braun, the first and only Black woman to the US Senate and Harold Washington, the first Black Mayor of Chicago. President Obama met with him at the Medici, a University of Chicago coffee house, to discuss his future in politics. At 96, he is still writing, publishing and speaking out. He is a man with a message that neither age nor distance can silence.
We are honored to bring Professor Timuel Black back to The Netherlands.
Reverend Harcourt Klinefelter and Lois Mothershed Pot will also join us. Reverend Klinefelter worked for Dr. King for three years, until his death. After he finished his studies at Yale Theological Seminary, he went down South to find him and became his Public Relations director. He used to sit in the kitchen with him and Coretta!
Lois Mothershed Pot grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her “baby” sister Thelma Mothershed was one of the Little Rock Nine, the young kids who were able to integrate Central High School only after the intervention of President Eisenhower and the National Guard. Lois was the first African-American President of the National Christian Students Union and the first Black student in her university.
We hope you will take time out and bring your children to the 30th Tribute to Dr. King. Adrienne West with David Cameron, Liat Alkan and ‘The Close Shaves” a chorale group from the American School will sing songs of the Movement – “Let Us Break Bread Together, “ “Oh Freedom” and other songs Dr. King would have loved. Jimmy Yarnell and a combo will play jazz and, as always, young people, the “Bearers of the Torch” will speak. Finally, Timothy Broas, the US Ambassador will read the President’s Proclamation for Martin Luther King Day and share his own thoughts and feelings.
So much has changed since Dr. King and all those who first marched with him and “sat-in” with him and went to jail with him demanded the rights guaranteed to every American – indeed every human being. However, we know that today, there is much to be done. Given the events of the last few months, it is more evident and urgent than ever!
It is fitting that the motto of Martin Luther King Day is “Make this a Day on, not a day off!” And by making each day a day on, the words of the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement will become reality “We can and we shall overcome some day.”
Join us for a simple dinner, the kind Dr. King would have enjoyed. Listen to people who were there, lto the singing and the music and wisdom of the young. Roberta Enschede
Sponsored by OAR – Overseas Americans Remember, Anneke Beeuwkes, Roberta Enschede, Michele Fiszbajn, Jessie Rodell
A special thank you to the Public Affairs Office of the US Embassy and Delta Airlines for helping us to bring Professor Timuel Black back to the Netherlands for the 30th Anniversary of the Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.