Dr. Suzan D. Johnson Cook Honors MLK Jr.ís Memory
Martin Luther King Jr., a hero of the Civil Rights Movement, was assassinated in Memphis, TN, on April 4, 1968. His impressive legacy, however, lives on. For the last 25 years, the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore has honored his memory with a commemorative lecture. On Jan. 13, 2007, Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook filled that role with distinction. She called on her audience to do their part, "to make a difference," and to be "strengthened by our struggle."
"The ultimate measure of a man is...where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King Jr.
Baltimore, MD - On Saturday, January 13, 2007, Dr. Suzan D. Johnson Cook gave the annual Enoch Pratt Library's Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative lecture. It was held in the Wheeler Auditorium, at the Central Library, 400 Cathedral Street. She touched on three main themes in recalling the impressive legacy of the slain Civil Rights hero. Dr. Cook said: "The 'spirit of liberation' is developed when we go through what we go through. We as a people must remember that we now have a 'spirit of liberation,' that bombs could not blow us out; hoses could not wash us out; Jim Crow could not stuff us out; and dogs could not bite us out. A man named 'Martin,' with a Queen beside him named 'Coretta,' who had to deal with bombs in their baby's bedroom, kept on marching, kept on fighting. And, so we as a people developed a 'spirit of liberation.' And, we must remember that it did not come easy. Somebody paid a price for us to be liberated."
Dr. Cook, age 50, is the senior pastor and founder of Believers Christian Fellowship Church, located in Harlem, N.Y. She is also the author of a number of popular books, including, "Too Blessed to be Stressed: Words of Wisdom for Women on the Move." (1) She was the first female police chaplain for NYC and also served a Fellowship on Race & Reconciliation in the White House during Bill Clinton's presidency. Dr. Cook has a B.S. from Emerson College, an M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia U., a M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary, along with a D.Minn. from United Theological Seminary. The auditorium was filled near to capacity to hear her talk, despite the fact it was in competition with the Baltimore Ravens-Indianapolis Colts' NFL game. The Rev. Alfred C.D. Vaughn introduced the speaker, after Dr. Carla Hayden, Director of the Pratt Library, had made some preparatory remarks.
Dr. Cook continued: "Along with liberation, comes 'confirmation.' Confirmation is when God gives you a signal...that those who are called by him can hear." She used the Biblical story of Exodus and the problems that Moses had with key members of his own tribe in taking his people out of Egypt to make her point. Dr. Cook said: "Not everyone wants to be free. Some are content with where they used to be...There was a whole lot of mumbling and grumbling that went on," with respect to Moses' leadership. "Nobody ever says anything about anyone who's not doing anything...But as soon as you're doing something positive...Everybody has got something to say...This is a sign that you are on the right track." She added that was what Dr. King had to deal with, too. This was a sign for him of "confirmation."
Background on Dr. King: He was assassinated in Memphis, TN, on April 4, 1968. King's political strategy of taking on the Establishment by "linking poverty, civil rights and the Vietnam War," had made him some powerful enemies within America's "Shadow Government." (2) I'm convinced on an instinct level, but I can't prove it, that the same criminal element responsible for ordering King's murder, was also behind the killings of our martyred President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his brother Robert F. Kennedy. All I know for sure is this: Today, our Republic is fading fast. We are also more vulnerable than ever to the sinister machinations of the grasping, divide and conquer scheming Plutocrats of the New World Order and their ruthless agents. (3)
Dr. Cook said that it is during the process of 'revelation," when some of the best work, as reflected in Dr. King's life is done. This is when you can see who is doing the work, as opposed to those who are "talking loud and doing nothing." She underscored how thousands had originally joined up with Dr. King and the emerging Civil Rights Movement. But, that "many had left the ranks, turned back or dropped out," because of FBI harassment and for other reasons. Dr. Cook emphasized that it is part of "God's 'revelation' that not everyone will go...The one who is called out, however, must never lose hope...The front line is not for wimps. It's for warriors."
The Enoch Pratt Free Library began with a generous gift over 120 years ago from one of Baltimore's greatest sons--Enoch Pratt. His endowment of $1,058,333.00 opened up the possibility, via books, of enlightenment to "all, rich and poor, without distinction of race or color." Like so many philanthropists of that era, Pratt is buried in fabled Greemount Cemetery. Another local legend, the late Henry L. Mencken, has all of his writings preserved by this fine institution. The brilliant Edgar Allen Poe, author, poet and master of the macabre, who died in Baltimore, also has a room dedicated here to his literary efforts. Poe's paternal family roots run deep in the annals of this city, predating the American Revolution. The central branch building was erected in 1931, and like so many other public edifices built around that time, it will probably last for another century or two. (4)
To a standing ovation, Dr. Cook concluded her remarks by saying how Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King had did their parts. "Now, we need to do our part...It takes courage and sacrifice...We must go forward...Let every day count...Make a difference. We are strengthened by our struggle." (5)
3. http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~pdscott/index.html and
© William Hughes 2007
William Hughes is the author of "Saying 'No' to the War Party" (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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