What is the civil rights agenda for 21st century?

caines | 5/30/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Daughter of M.L. King, Jr. says we must arm todays youth for the future The youngest daughter of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Rev. Bernice King, issued a challenge to the City of Miami during her address at a packed golden anniversary luncheon hosted by the Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board [CRB] last week. King, 50, an ordained minister and attorney, currently serves as the CEO of The King Center in Atlanta and is recognized as a life-changing orator. During her speech she addressed the changing mission of the civil rights movement but emphasized that one must be committed to sacrifice and service. It is good to look back from time to time and reflect and reevaluate where weve come from and where he hope to go, she said. In terms of the civil rights movement in the U.S., I think weve forgotten some of the good work that was done. And sometimes organizations fail to remain relevant. We have to adapt to the times and today one of our priorities must be addressing the issues and concerns of our youth.

Local leaders honored as trailblazers

During the luncheon, CRB Chairman Dr. Walter T. Richardson, along with Dr. Larry D. Capp, who chaired the 50th anniversary committee, presented the Trailblazer Award to 10 community leaders: Rabbi Solomon Schiff; George Yap; Chief Clarence Dickson; Betty Ferguson; Dr. Eduardo Padron; Jacques Despinosse; Thelma Gibson; Carrie P. Meek; Marleine Bastien; and Katy Sorensen. Weve come a long way in terms of civil rights, but we still have a long way to go, said award recipient Gibson, a former city commissioner, nurse and wife of Miamis beloved priest, civil rights activist and politician, the Rev. Canon Theodore Gibson. The struggle continues; now we must help our youth understand that they have an important role to play and that the world is waiting for them. But we must also remember that we are all Gods children and that we must work as one community. Two other award winners, Bastien and Sorensen, addressed their own civil rights issues. We can never stop until all immigrants are free to come out of the shadow of fear and can walk into the light of dignity, Bastien said. I first got involved in the struggle for civil rights when I was just 10 during a rally in Boston but the greatest day of my involvement was when Miami-Dade County passed the Human Rights Ordinance, giving full rights to all LGBTs, she said.

Extending the mission of the movement

Greater Bethel AMEs pastor, the Rev. Eddie Lake, believes that it is essential that we find a way to re-enfranchise the 1.5 million men and women who have felony convictions in the U.S. and have subsequently been stripped of many of their rights as citizens. Politicians only listen to the voice of the ballot box, he said. We must get the rights of our brothers and sisters restored so that we have real political capital. Until then we are both powerless and voiceless. Hundreds of Black youth have been killed this year and our president has neither said nor done much of anything. But when 20 children were killed in Connecticut he, and many others, rushed to the scene. Are Blacks really part of the new agenda?