“Let me define the power of that 50-year legacy by quoting Victor Hugo,” Jones said. “’More powerful than the march of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.’”
Dr. Jones used the commemoration to turn minds to remembrance and reflection, not only over the last 50 years, but to each individual’s daily life.
“This 50-year mark gives us the unique opportunity to look at where we are today,” Jones said. “Are judgments based on the color of skin really gone? The 50-year anniversary of my dear friend is more than a tipping point, it is a reckoning.”
Jones touched on the disproportionate percentage of Americans imprisoned in comparison to the world population, modern-day slavery and what turned out to be a hot-button topic: gun control.
“Just as Dr. King, Malcolm X and Brother Kennedy were taken by gun violence, we too face gun violence,” Jones said. “The choice of violence with the use of a gun is not a rational option in our society … Forget the NRA, it’s not the second amendment; it is a question of morality. We must ask ourselves if it is morally right or morally wrong to carry guns.”
As Dr. Jones presented a case for gun control in the United States, about 15 to 20 students and community members left the crowded Grande Ballroom where the event was held.
“I was sitting toward the back, so I saw it all,” said Jenni Masey, sophomore. “I was so shocked, at least 15 people got up and left, if not more. I was so embarrassed. But he just kept talking like it wasn’t awkward.”
Dr. Jones made a plea to the audience to commemorate the legacy of Dr. King by committing themselves to “the pursuit of nonviolent resolution to inevitable conflict.” Calling remembrance to the tragedy of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, Jones spoke of the population’s duty to children.
“We adults … are collectively trustees of the most precious asset we have,” Jones said. “And the most precious asset we have collectively is our children. If you get to learn anything of trust, you learn that the principle obligation of the trustee is to protect and preserve the asset of the trust, so it doesn’t become wasted, squandered or harmed. We have an obligation to protect and save our children. We are their trustees.”
Unaffected by those who chose to leave during his talk of gun control, Dr. Jones continued to ask for “rational thought and empathetic hearts” to solve the issue of violence in the United States.
“I read in The New York Times, the plaintiff comment of a parent in New Town Connecticut, ‘What have we become as a nation? They are killing our babies.’ We are better than that,” Jones said.
Dr. Jones ended his hour-long speech asking those in attendance to let live the dream of Dr. King.
“The reverend, he was a minister of the gospel first and foremost, rather than a civil rights leader. His legacy was that we leave no stone unturned and say that we are going to lay down the instruments of violence. We have to.”
Nicole Shepard @NicoleEShepard