BY JURRY TAALIB-DEEN
Journal Staff Writer
Donzaleigh Abernathy, daughter of the late Civil Rights activist, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, spoke to an audience of, over 1000, at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Celebration. Themed, “Reconciliation through Service, Education, Social Justice and Religion”.The event was held on Monday, January 16, inside the University of Toledo’s Savage Arena starting at 9 am.
The event had many area youth, and youth organizations, incorporated into the program, including the Scott High School Marching Band, Toledo School for the Arts, and the University of Toledo’s Gospel Choir, just to name a few.
Local leaders including Dr. Sharon Gaber, president of the University of Toledo, and U.S. Representative, Marcy Kaptur, briefly addressed the audience.
Also attending the celebration, as a spectator, was Danny Brown, a local activist for social justice, and who spent 20 years in prison for a crime that DNA evidence would prove he didn’t commit.
He said he came to the event because he admired the works of Dr. King, and he liked attending the annual celebration, which he attended in the past. What Mr. Brown said he would like to see the people take from the event is more people fighting for the rights of truly disadvantage people, like the poor educational system within the inner city.
Ms. Abernathy, somewhat, spoke to those same hopes, the Mr. Brown voiced, he would like to see happen after the event. Ms. Abernathy, who’s a critically acclaimed actress, appearing in reoccurring roles on shows such as, The Walking Dead, and Lifetime television series, “Any Day Now,” shared with her audience memories of her father, and Godfather, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
She said one of her earliest memories of her father, and Godfather, interacting, involved teaching her how to swim. Although the experience may have seemed minimum to some, she implied, “Uncle Martin,” which she called him, taught her how to get over the fear of water, which would translate into not fearing anything.
Ms. Abernathy encouraged the audience to not to let the current climate of divisiveness, cause a separation between those fighting to do what’s good for the society. Then she challenged the audience with the statements, “Do you think God loves you more because you’re Christian, and hates someone because they worship the sun, or are Jewish, Muslim, or not a heterosexual?”
“Dr. King had a dream, and I have a dream too. That dream is that America will be an America for everybody,” Ms. Abernathy said.
Afterwards, Ms. Abernathy spoke with The Toledo Journal about the current climate that many perceive to be hostile towards minorities.
“Get involved with organizations that are working positively in the community if you believe the climate in the society is not right; speak up, and speak out. This is a democracy, and everyone’s voice counts. And now, more than ever, we need to make our voice count. Also, get involved with the Black Lives Matter Movement; even if you’re a white person. We know that White Lives Matter, but we need to let people know that Black Lives Matter, Latino Lives Matter, and Women’s Lives Matter too,” Ms. Abernathy said.