King breakfast hears plea for 'healing' Greene tells Moton alumni, 'We are falling apart'

January 18, 1998|By Judith Green | Judith Green,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"America, you're in trouble!" was the cautionary message of the Rev. Darryl Greene, guest speaker for the 11th annual Martin Luther King Jr. prayer breakfast sponsored by the Former Students and Friends of Robert Moton School.

State Treasurer Richard N. Dixon is president of the group, which comprises alumni of the only school in Carroll County to have had an all-black enrollment well into the 1970s.

This year's event drew more than 300 people yesterday morning to the banquet hall of Martin's Westminster.

After the meal, the participants heard music by Morgan State University's nationally recognized 40-voice gospel choir, led by Nathan Carter. As opening artist, soprano Aleta Greene, sister of the speaker, sang the hymn "Blessed Assurance."

"I thank Dr. Carter for the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful surprise he pulled on me this morning," said Darryl Greene, pastor of Martin Luther King Jr. Baptist Church in Columbia and a teacher at Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School in Baltimore.

Greene, a fiery speaker, took the occasion -- commemorating what would have been the 69th birthday of the slain civil rights leader -- to praise King as "a man who knew how to translate the Gospel into life" instead of keeping his religion "locked up behind stained-glass windows."

And he used King's life to meditate, in evangelical style, on Luke 19: 41-42, verses that describe the coming of Jesus to Jerusalem: "And when he was come near, he beheld the city and wept over it." The passage goes on to berate the corruption of the city's religious establishment but also recalls the fate of Moses, who led the children of Israel to the promised land but was not allowed to enter it.

The punishment for rejecting King and his teachings, Greene said, referring to the criticism that swirled about the civil rights leader all through his career, is borne by those he tried to steer.

"Rather than coming together, we are falling apart!" Greene said. "We are selfish, self-centered, self-serving. Drugs run like a river through our community. We have heartaches and headaches, messed-up children and messed-up marriages, messed-up churches and messed-up schools."

He urged a reaffirmation of faith and a return to social service.

"Oh, how we applaud those tax cuts that come to us on the backs of the least of these," he said, referring to current congressional debate over the budget surplus. "Those tax cuts don't do anything except at the expense of somebody else. I teach accounting," he added dryly.

To strong applause, he ended: "America needs some healing."

Dixon paid tribute to the Robert Moton alumni who have kept fellowship for 25 years and thanked, especially, the treasurer of the association, George Collins, who suffered a stroke last year and was unable to attend the breakfast.

Since 1974, the group has given $50,000 in college scholarships to African-American students, ranging from $400 in the early years to $1,000 since 1993. It expects to award five $1,000 scholarships this year.

Robert Moton School, named for a prominent black educator, was a 12-grade school in Westminster for black students. Its building is now part of the Carroll Community College campus.

Pub Date: 1/18/98

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