SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — At 6:01 p.m. Wednesday, a bell was rung five times at the Springfield Art Museum, as a large group gathered in a circle in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death 50 years ago.
Each ring represented one decade since his passing.
The Springfield NAACP organized the Golden Gathering MLK50 Commemoration honoring Dr. King’s legacy.
The event, according to organizers, was the beginning of a year-long commemoration the chapter has planned for Dr. King and the 50th anniversary of his death. Prayer, bell ringing, art, and discussion were all part of the commemoration.
“When you go back and listen to some of the things Dr. King talked about in the 60’s, you’d think that he was talking about today,” said Pastor Thomas Appleby of the Sanctuary of Praise Church of God in Christ. He was one of the speakers at the event.
The theme of Springfield’s Golden Gathering was D. King’s book from 1967. Where do we go from here? Chaos or Community.
“And of course that is exactly the question that begs to be answered in Springfield as well as in our nation,” said Dr. Sabrina Brinson, the Golden Gathering MLK50 Commemoration Chair, and NAACP Board Member.
But for some, like John Herbert, the head of the Theater Department at OTC, who was on the board of the Golden Gathering, this commemoration has a bigger purpose in his community.
“This community is still in the process of healing from racial oppression that maybe other communities have already progressed beyond,” Herbert said. “Just a little over 100 years ago, three men were lynched on the square.”
He says there’s still a general lack of awareness and some seem out of touch.
“I am not coming from a place of anger. I’m not angry, but I think we have a lot of work to do, and I think a lot of people don’t realize how much work we still have to do.”
Dr. Brinson says there’s still much to be done in education, safe and affordable housing and social justice.
“When you look at the disparities in the achievement between students from the mainstream and students from diverse populations of color,” SHE SAID. “also when you look at now, it’s not just racial profiling, it’s religious profiling that is happening for example in our Muslim community.”
She says in order to resolve these issues the community has to bring them to the surface.
“And that’s something people have been hesitant to do because it’s like ‘well, it’s better than it used to be.’ But of course, that’s not good enough. ‘These things take time.’ Time’s up,”
They hope this evening brings them one step closer to less chaos and more community.