WILKES-BARRE — To drive home a point about local residents needing to care more deeply about their community so that they’re driven to act to make it better, the Rev. Michael Brewster focused on a letter that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from a jail cell in Birmingham, Ala.
Brewster was the keynote speaker at the NAACP Wilkes-Barre Chapter’s annual observance of the life of the slain civil rights leader Friday in the library of First Presbyterian Church.
Brewster, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Wilkes-Barre, said King wrote to his fellow clergymen in 1968 discussing several problems ailing his church.
“Deep disappointment do I have in my heart, and I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love,” Brewster read, emphasizing that “there can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”
The problem in Wilkes-Barre is that “we simply don’t have enough people weeping for freedom and justice. The pain just simply isn’t deep enough yet. There isn’t enough deep disappointment, as King said, for what we say we love deeply,” Brewster said.
But rather than focus on ways the community has failed, Brewster chose to focus on “the ways in which we as a community have stepped up and shown great disappointment about things we love deeply, which, as a result, has brought about some positive changes.”
He noted “such an outpouring of love from our community towards those who live (at the Sherman Hills apartment complex in Wilkes-Barre) and are struggling with the presence of increased violence and drug activity.” He recalled the shooting death of 14-year-old Tyler Winstead in 2012.
“Who could ever forget the outpouring of love from the commuity that was so overwhelming?” he said. “We saw a wide cross section of our community coming out because they had something in common — they all cared deeply about something … our children.”
“I wonder if there are any who are here tonight who, like Dr. King, are experiencing deep disappointment because of their deep love for Wilkes-Barre and they weep because of the laxity that we see here in our own city, in our law enforcement, in education and religious and business sectors and even its residents, who have yet to make equality and justice for everyone a priority,” Brewster said.