Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MLK message: ‘We have forgotten we are brothers’

By Rupert Howell

“I don’t care how much you march or how you got your civil rights if the devil is still controlling you,” Dr. Frank E. Ray Sr. of Memphis told an audience of between five and six hundred Monday morning at the Martin Luther King celebration at Batesville Intermediate School Auditorium.

Monday morning’s celebration followed a march from Mt. Zion Church up Panola Avenue to the Batesville Square and on to the auditorium where the Memphis minister’s message was given.

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Organizers said 585 people participated in the March. Monday’s activities culminated a weekend full of events in the late Dr. King’s honor.

Ray is pastor of New Salem M.B. Church in Memphis.

He delivered his lively message mixing scriptural lessons with current happenings and told his audience, “We’re raising a bunch of cowards.”

He explained that in his youth when boys got mad they would “box it out,” and at the end, “we were still brothers.”

“Now we go get a gun and shoot somebody. That’s a coward,” he said.

“We have forgotten we are brothers because we’re using all our ammunition on each other,” Ray told the mostly black audience and then said, “If you go outside and your hubcaps are missing, a brother got ‘em. If your TV’s been stolen, a brother got it. If someone stole your wife, it was a brother. I could never understand why we spend our lives destroying each other,” he added.

Ray warned the devil wanted “your heart” and explained that he “would use you to get at God. He (the devil) will hinder your progress.”

Ray began by telling the audience that while on the outside things were looking right, “something ain’t right with the inside situation.”

The Memphis minister told the audience to “Put on a robe of holiness and girth yourself.”

The MLK weekend included a basketball jamboree Friday night, an African-American Business Banquet Saturday and a commemoration musical Sunday. Monday’s festivities began with a breakfast and prayer service at Mt. Zion Church.

A local group of AmeriCorps students offered a “Bowl for a Book” at the Intermediate School cafeteria on Monday and a Gospel Musical  was held Monday  night at the Batesville Junior High auditorium.

The event marked the 25th anniversary of the MLK holiday signed into law in 1983 and observed first in 1986.

This year’s “Silver Jubilee” observance was planned with the theme, “Twenty-five Years of remembrance, celebration and action.”