WILKES-BARRE – Political leaders and community activists gathered in City Council Chambers on Monday morning not to argue over city politics but to join in tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.
The event was hosted by longtime Latino activist Angel Jirau.
It opened with a benediction by the Rev. Shawn Walker, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Wilkes-Barre, who admitted King's work is not complete but urged, people who are close to giving up, remember it's still OK to dream.
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton said King's was a dream shared by people who lived in oppression in this country.
He was the voice of the people, and the best tribute we can make to Dr. King is to strive for more equality.
Wilton Curiel, from the King's College Diversity Impact Program, talked of work still to be done and the need to make bridges where there were barriers.
He told the crowd King's dream was also our dream and that was to live in a better society.
Recalling an era when protests were met with high-pressure streams of water and even violence, Luzerne County Judge Richard Hughes talked of how King changed that through mass marches and said the appropriate way to pay tribute to Dr. King is to practice what he preached.
State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, said the only way to prevent evil from triumphing is for good to stand up.
When we work together we go further, we do good things, Pashinski added. We must do our part to move the bar forward.
Luzerne County Community College President Thomas Leary opened with a quote from King: Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.
He closed with a poem written by area native Richard Franklin, a poem on which King's son bestowed an award.
Marching along in oneness, Leary read, means peace for all mankind.