Every year city officials and local community and faith leaders from across the North Shore gather for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day for a symbolic march from First Baptist Church of Glen Cove to Finley Middle School.
“Today we proudly present our 37th annual program, our first virtual program,” said Sheryl Goodine, the chairperson of the City of Glen Cove Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Commemorative Commission. “Covid-19 may have prevented us from participating in our traditional symbolic march this morning, but we refuse to let it stop us from celebrating the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
This year’s presentation featured spoken word, music and dances. Glen Cove is one of two localities on Long Island that has offered consecutive and annual community programs in honor of King, said Goodine, a deacon of First Baptist Church of Glen Cove. The theme of this year’s presentation was “His Truth is Marching On.”
Remembering the lessons that King left behind after his assassination on April 4, 1968 is crucial at this time, Goodine said.
“We gather today to celebrate and give thanks for the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose prophetic ministry and witness furthered the cause of justice,” said St. John’s of Lattingtown Rev. Catherine Lane Wieczorek, “so that all people who have suffered because of discrimination and oppression, especially our Black and Brown siblings in God’s human family and those bound by the evils of racism and prejudice, may be free at last,”
City of Glen Cove Mayor Tim Tenke said as the United States is going through such a tumultuous time, the ability to gather as a community, whether it is virtually or in-person, is what makes the community as strong as it is.
“As Dr. King stated in 1963, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that,’” Tenke remarked. “’Hate can not drive out hate, only love can do that.’ Dr. King’s life may have been tragically cut short at the age of 39, but his legacy and wisdom live on. Dr. King’s imperatives to improve the standing of African Americans and minorities are as important today as it was over 50 years ago.”
Dr. Maria L. Rianna, superintendent of the Glen Cove City School District, said she wonders what King would say if he were here today. There is much work to do with the hearts, mind and humanity of those within the country to reflect on actions and words, Rianna said, to prevent repeating the mistakes of the past.
Over the summer, Tenke appointed Rev. Roger C. Williams to form a commission that would help the city address issues and concerns among the Black, Indigenous and People of Color community.
The committee comes after George Floyd of Minneapolis, Minn. was murdered by police officers on May 25. Outrage across the nation led to months of Black Lives Matter marches, protests and rallies taking a stand against inequality.
“Black Lives Matter was about the lifting up of every head on every Black and Brown body to the dignity of their humanity that God already gave them,” Williams said. “For you see, this dehumanizing situation that took place over the summer had its roots in the historical prejudice that this nation had about Black people. Three-fifths of a person we were said to be.”
Systemic racism has continued, Williams said. Even so, people need to be “a vessel of truth.” This is what the nation and the community needs, he added. “That truth is marching on.”