Last all-black school's alumni remember King Nearly 600 attend Carroll breakfast

January 17, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

The preacher's words urging blacks to do more to fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream brought almost 600 people to their feet yesterday at a Westminster breakfast honoring the slain civil rights leader.

"It is imperative for us in 1993 to hold on to the dream of Dr. King and work to bring it into fruition. We have too much at stake," said the Rev. Michael E. Bell of the Bazil A.M.E. Church in Cockeysville.

Mr. Bell spoke at the Sixth Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast, sponsored by The Former Students of Robert Moton School Inc. at Martin's Westminster.

The last all-black class graduated in 1965 from Robert Moton, which was Carroll's last all-black school and now is a county elementary school.

The alumni group did not advertise yesterday's event, but 581 people from the Baltimore area attended. Tickets were $20.

Mr. Bell, 35, tried to inspire the crowd to remember Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, made 30 years ago in Washington, D.C.

Blacks have made great strides in the past 30 years, Mr. Bell said, becoming mayors of major cities, senators and representatives in Congress and advancing in corporations.

These jobs allow them to have "a dramatic impact" on the nation, he said.

But more needs to be done, Mr. Bell said.

"We have achieved more, but we are doing less," he said. "We as a community and a people have become stagnant. We have become comfortable and content," he said.

The same problems Dr. King battled exist today -- racism, injustice, unemployment and homelessness, Mr. Bell said. The "terminal disease of self hatred" causes African Americans to be violent against one another, he said.

Communities and families are at stake, Mr. Bell said.

"The most important thing is the content of our character," not how much money we have, the car we drive or the color of our skin, he said.

"Keep on moving. Keep on fighting and keep on struggling.

"We've simply stopped dreaming. Our minds have gone blank," Mr. Bell said, adding that people must find a way to take Dr. King's dream into the 21st century.

"We as a people have a rich history with a proud past. You have kings and queens in your bloodline. We need to be reminded of them," he said.

In spite of oppression and racism, African-Americans "out do" any group, Mr. Bell said.

"We out dance 'em. We out sing 'em. We produce the best athletes, politicians and entertainers," he said to laughter and applause from the audience.

"Whatever you do in life, do it well," he said.

The crowd came to its feet when he told the story of an old mule pushed down a dry well and covered with garbage by its owner, a farmer who didn't have the heart to shoot the animal.

Each day, the mule pushed the garbage off until he got to the top of the well and climbed out.

"Shake it off. Step on it. Move on up a little higher," Mr. Bell said.

The Morgan State University Gospel Choir with soloists Stephen Jones and Paula Huggins performed six songs at the breakfast.

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