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Mrs. Carolyn Taylor Thomas Speaks During MLK Day Parade

Mrs. Carolyn Taylor Thomas, a member of the GMC Board of Trustees, was the guest speaker for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade on January 14, 2005. A copy of her dynamic speech follows. What is the capitol of Zaire? The answer—Martin Luther King, Jr. Mrs. Peter J. Boylan, Mr. Peevy, members of the dais, faculty, students and friends of GMC: I must begin my remarks with an expression of gratitude to the students for your choice of military training and service, certainly to members from your units already in Iraq—we salute you and again thanks to their and your demonstrated caring for America. It is truly appropriate on M.L.K. Jr. Parade Day to see the diversity of the student body, particular African American students, that started with the threat of a lawsuit. You stand here today due to a commitment of choice in leadership by Peter Boylan and an enlightened faculty. I must admit to being the lone Board member who was against the return of football to this school—not the sport but the expressed concern that the recruitment would be of African American students capable—to cite my owns words—“to run up and down the football field but on leaving unable to write a correct sentence. Fortunately I was invited to the first team banquet and was happy to hear of scholarships to Tuskegee University, University of Georgia, and other 4-year colleges and universities. So it’s wonderful to have the GMC Bulldogs! Certainly the University of Georgia wishes it could have this presentation in class on campus. The problem is they haven’t changed the climate since Hamilton & Charene integrated. Remember the challenge by faculty members of having African American students enter on athletic scholarships and have someone else do their class work. What a disservice to a person in the name of education! But, let me go back to the capitol of Zaire being Martin Luther King, Jr. The comedian Chris Roc made this statement saying why a black man was failing African American history—in school all he was taught was Martin Luther king. You see, history defines a people and the larger community decided to make MLK the start and finish of African American history! I knew Martin Luther King, Jr., but more importantly we attended undergraduate colleges in the same system—Atlanta University. He at Morehouse, I at Spelman. And students of both colleges were able to take courses at Atlanta University. We had experiences with some of the same faculties as teachers and also then making African American history. MLK also graduated from Booker T. Washington High School—and Negro History was taught at the high school and at the colleges. It was at Atlanta University that Dr. E. Williams, Economist, stated when his children are of college age they will be attending the college of their choice as segregation was too costly! Years later it was Martin Luther King, Jr., who had the courage to go up against this system of white domination over everything from the pulpit to the streets. It was King who spoke to all races in words that raised the conscious of all Americans to a higher level—some through the fire, the Birmingham children in church, 3 young men killed voter registration Emmit Till but all through the water—hose that is. Going to the streets—marches for changes. Why march? King knew African Americans had marched streets of New York led by the NAACP fighting lynching of African Americans in the south; also it was a march that started the African Methodist Episcopal church. As African Americans in “white” church—all called came to pray at the altar but African Americans were barred from kneeling and they marched out. It is this history that King knew! In remarks made at the Emancipation Proclamation program 2 weeks ago, I reminded the audience of our need to know the role the slaves played in their freedom. Citing words of some Negro spirituals, “Swing low, sweet chariot coming for to carry me home” didn’t mean heaven—it was the call used for them to escape from slavery. Again it is this history King knew and with this firm foundation his wisdom, strengths, leadership, risk taking, yes his faith in the Almighty, he made the right choices. So to celebrate MLK Day is to learn history of a people—not to recite a poem on MLK Day and Black History Month—but to have it recognized in every fiber of American History because we are! A few nights ago the Governor of Georgia game his State of the State address and commentators spoke of history as over 100 years since the Republican majority—in the Senate and House—guess who else was there over a hundred years ago? In closing, Dr. Martin Luther King Day, we must have a Biblical reference and this deals with Leadership—The Trees Judges Chapter 9 Verses 8-15 8 Once the trees went to anoint a king over themselves. So they said to the olive tree, 'Reign over us.' 9 But the olive tree answered them, 'Must I give up my rich oil, whereby men and gods are honored, and go to wave over the trees?' 10 Then the trees said to the fig tree, 'Come; you reign over us!' 11 But the fig tree answered them, 'Must I give up my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to wave over the trees?' 12 Then the trees said to the vine, 'Come you, and reign over us.' 13 But the vine answered them, 'Must I give up my wine that cheers gods and men, and go to wave over the trees?' 14 Then all the trees said to the buckthorn, 'Come; you reign over us!' 15 But the buckthorn replied to the trees, 'If you wish to anoint me king over you in good faith, come and take refuge in my shadow. Otherwise, let fire come from the buckthorn and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'