Martin Luther King Jr. service centers on diversity
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Monday, January 21, 2013
1/21/13 at 7:11 AM
John Nunes embodies diversity, he told several hundred people Sunday night at the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church.
"I am diversity," he said. "If you hate diversity, you hate me."
Nunes, president of Lutheran World Relief, said he was born in Jamaica to a very black African man and a red-haired Scottish Highland mother who was "see-through" white. He said his family has no idea how they got a Hispanic name.
He moved to Canada as a young man, and then to the United States for college. When a college registrar told him he could only fill out one box under the race category on an enrollment form, he chose black.
"That's the day I became black," he said. He immediately formed a black student association and worked to create a Martin Luther King Day observance on campus.
Nunes said America has struggled with diversity since its founding, and has been guilty of hating diversity instead of embracing it.
He spoke about diversity at the MLK Jr. service.
He called King a prophetic patriot, a man who was pro-American.
"His dream was deeply rooted in the American dream," he said.
King saw himself as part of a larger tradition, a universal, diverse, multi-cultural tradition, he said.
"It's most American to uproot racism and injustice, which are un-American."
He said churches and other faith communities often have been a weak voice with an uncertain sound in confronting injustice, and the silence of the church has consoled the power structure in communities.
"Only through sacrifice and service are lives changed, the poor fed, and broken children given the chance to be more than a statistic," he said.
"It's only through self-sacrifice and hard work that we will keep the dream alive."
Nunes was introduced by the Rev. Leonard Busch, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, who earlier in the evening offered a prayer as several dozen people began a prayer walk down Cincinnati Avenue to the church.
"Our lives are fractured, our communities fragmented, with different people groups divided by distrust, disrupted by disputes ..." Busch prayed. "We find that even the wonderful diversity you have sown in the human family is difficult."
Kesia Harry, one of the walkers, said she participated in the walk to honor King's legacy and to "join with civil rights leaders of all races and nationalities coming together as one, honoring our forefathers."
Cameron Blakley, who was the third-place winner in the annual Martin Luther King oratory contest, said he participated in the walk to honor King's dream.
Nancy Day, executive director of Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, was mistress of ceremonies for the service, which included greetings from several civic leaders, music by the Voices of Unity, and presentation of the I Have a Dream oratory award to winner Aylin Reyes, from Central High School.
MLK parade today
The Martin Luther King Jr. Parade will start at 11 a.m. Monday at Detroit Avenue and John Hope Franklin Boulevard. The parade route will then head east on John Hope Franklin Boulevard and through the OSU-Tulsa campus, then south on Greenwood Avenue to Archer Street and end in front of ONEOK Field at Archer Street and Elgin Avenue.
Original Print Headline: Diversity focus of MLK Jr. service
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
Garrett Bland sings "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church on Sunday. The song is also known as "The Black National Anthem." MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
Korea McJunkins (left) and Maria Drew, both 14, walk to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World