• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Hawkins: MLK, Jesus both great teachers


A longtime educator told nearly 200 people at First Christian Church for the 7th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Monday that Jesus Christ and King were both great teachers. Before guest speaker Woodford County Schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins addressed the crowd, many stopped by an exhibit of MLK memorabilia owned by Doug Smith. “This is my joy,” Smith said, adding that the dozens of books, photos, newspaper articles and figurines was actually his smallest collection. He’ll take another, larger exhibit to Louisville next month. Candice Kirtley sang “Take me to the King,” after which Hawkins joked that he wished he’d known he would have to follow such a powerful singer – because he probably would have turned down the invitation. The event is sponsored by the Woodford County Roots and Heritage Committee, and last week, in response to a question by The Sun, an organizer said Hawkins was the first white person to be its keynote speaker. Hawkins never mentioned his race; instead, he asked attendees to think about their favorite teacher, and gave three reasons why Jesus Christ and King were wonderful teachers. Hawkins said both King and Jesus showed compassion. “When you look at the work of Dr. King, he certainly showed compassion. He loved his fellow man. He had a true concern for their sufferings, and he longed to help. In every march, every speech, in every part of his work, Dr. King showed compassion for others,” Hawkins said. Both King and Jesus made their lessons relevant, Hawkins said, citing King’s famous plea that people be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. “See, on the march that day in Washington (D.C.), Dr. King knew that people were there from all over the country. And so he talked about their home states. He talked about how hot it was in the summer in Mississippi and in Georgia. He brought in his own children to the story, to his speech, to make that connection with the people,” Hawkins said. Both King and Jesus had high expectations for their followers, and provided the support needed to help them meet them. “Time after time, Dr. King challenged people in his speeches. He implored them to be the best that they could be. Even so much that he wanted them to be the best in every occupation, regardless of what it was. You remember his famous quote, ‘If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth should pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well,’” Hawkins said. He reminded the audience of his opening question about their favorite teacher. “Think about the qualities that they displayed on a daily basis. I would venture a guess that the person you were thinking about was compassionate … they made learning relevant … and they had high expectations for you,” Hawkins said. “Now, the other thing I know about that favorite teacher is they probably weren’t your favorite while you were in their class. …” After a standing ovation for Hawkins, retired teacher Peggy Carter Seal spoke about the annual college scholarship presented by the Roots and Heritage Committee and Woodford County Human Rights Commission. “We found that there was a lack of minority teachers in our school system, and so we thought one way to help solve this problem was to bring them home,” Seal said. She introduced 2015’s winner of their annual $1,000 college scholarship: Tamia Joy Jackson, who’s in her freshman year of college. “… I just want to formally thank you all for helping me financially. Now I can fulfill my dreams at Eastern Kentucky University. I can strive to achieve all the goals that I’ve set for myself. … It is my pleasure to stand here, to represent you all …” Jackson said. MLK Day marchers brave cold weather By John McGary Woodford Sun Staff About 30 people braved sub-20 degree temperatures late Monday afternoon for a 25-minute “unity march” from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Clifton Road to First Baptist Church for a service honoring MLK. George Higgins, president of the Woodford County Roots and Heritage Committee, urged a much larger crowd inside the church to honor King throughout the year, not just on the national holiday created for him. He said parents and others need to read to children before they lose interest in reading. Woodford County Magistrate Ken Reed (Dist. 4), Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott and state Rep. James Kay were given the opportunity to speak. “Every time I walk into this church, I feel loved,” Reed said. “… What once were roadblocks are just bumps in the road now,” Traugott said, speaking of the country’s progress since King’s death in 1968. In much longer remarks, Kay said he’d studied King’s life, which was, for many, too focused on his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. He read from a letter King wrote as if he were the Apostle Paul. “And he said, ‘but America, I look at you from afar. I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress. …’” Kay said. The guest speaker was the Rev. Jermaine Wilson, a Versailles native and the pastor of St. John AME Church in Frankfort. Wilson was introduced by his uncle, the Rev. Tony Wilson Sr. Wilson’s sermon focused on Psalm 13, written by David while he was being chased by Saul: “How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Wilson told the congregation there were some ‘How long?’ questions that need to be addressed in our communities today. “How long do we have to deal with the use and the selling of drugs? How long will (there) continue to be a disparity in the test scores between minority students and white students? How long will there be a lack of minority teachers in our school system? How long will it take for racial profiling to end? How long do we have to deal with the violence in our schools and in our community? How long will the power and the greed of the few win out over the needs of many?” Wilson asked. “Is there anybody here tonight who’s had some ‘How long?’ moments?” Many indicated they’d had such moments. Wilson said though David’s circumstances hadn’t changed during Psalm 13, his approach to God had – from questioning to acceptance and worship. After a 90-minute service, church-goers walked back out in the cold. This time, they didn’t have to walk back to where the march began.

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