Donna Cronk photo // The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C. in December. A tour guide at the site said the memorial is designed to appear unfinished to symbolize that the work of the clergyman and civil rights activist remains unfinished. King lived from 1929 to 1968 when he was assassinated. The granite memorial was done by Lei Yixin and is inspired by a line in the "I Have a Dream speech: "Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope." The sculpture is called Stone of Hope.
This article appeared in Sunday's New Castle Courier-Times. It was a thrill to see the memorial during a night tour of capital monuments last month.
By Donna Cronk
This year’s celebration to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will take place in New Castle at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20 at The Place, 205 S. 21st St.
The evening features a program along with song and liturgical dance. An optional dinner will be served at 5 p.m. for anyone interested. Everyone is welcome to the meal and / or service. No reservations are needed for either.
Sponsoring New Castle congregations are First United Methodist Church, The Place, Bethany Tabernacle Church, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, First Friends Meeting and St. James Episcopal Church, among others, according to the event facilitator, Barry Cramer.
Cramer, of Richmond, is an ordained deacon at St. James Episcopal Church. He will speak on the topic, “Finding Beloved Community.” He says that to him, the concept of beloved community means to recognize a shared human nature among people, and a calling to drop divisions along with discovering how we can all get along while recognizing our commonality.
“I believe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday should be a holiday for all Americans, not just for the African-American community,” he said. “Our observances should be more than just remembrances of his life, but opportunities to be reminded what he taught – and to learn from him.”
He understands King’s message as one of racial reconciliation, economic justice and use of non-violent means to work toward justice and peace. “He was a contemporary prophet,” says Cramer. “He was a Nobel laureate because of his work. His stature compels us all to honor and learn from him.”
Along with his address will be various readings and prayers. The evening also features vocal music presented by several of Rosie Hua’s voice students; Stacey Torres is providing a liturgical dance accompanied by Hua singing, Kay Rogers on the flute and Sam Hua on the piano.
Cramer estimates that between 60 and 80 people attended last year. He hopes the annual tribute will continue. He would like to see more student involvement such as possibly writing or art projects, and possibly organizing a trip to the Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati.
He also welcomes involvement of additional churches. Any individual or church interested in becoming involved with next year’s program is welcome to email him at email@example.com.
Along with serving as a deacon, Cramer is a behavioral clinician in the addictions field at Meridian Health Services at the Addictions and Recovery Center in Richmond. He has also worked in blue-collar jobs, in the legal field, in mediation and conflict resolution.
His bachelor’s of arts degree in social sciences is from Ohio State University. He has a master of divinity from the Earlham School of Religion and a juris doctor (J.D.) from the International School of Law, now George Mason University School of Law.
The federal holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, Jan. 21.