Roscoe Williams was a young man when he first met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Atlanta.
"He was the calmest person I've ever met in my life," said Dr. Williams, a retired Paine College professor and administrator, who served as the guest speaker at the Eighth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Banquet held at Vanderhorst CME Church in Thomson last Saturday night. "You could tell that he was someone very, very special."
Dr. King, who was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968, made it a point to humble himself while serving God and others, said Dr. Williams. He believed strongly that all men were created equal and they should be treated that way in life.
"He fought for the poor and downtrodden," added Dr. Williams, while addressing more than 100 people who attended this year's banquet.
In his remarks about Dr. King, Dr. Williams also stressed the importance of young people remembering three points:
- Education - Educate yourselves. "There's power in education," said Dr. Williams. "You can't beat the investment in education."
- Humble yourselves. "Dr. King humbled himself. Humility is powerful."
- Serve others. "Dr. King gave of himself." And because he gave of himself, he was the youngest man ever to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. King was presented a $54,000 gift, which he gave away to the poor and to the church.
Dr. Williams said a lot of younger people don't seem to have the courage they need in life.
Dr. King was just the opposite. He had a wealth of courage, said Dr. Williams. "He took the maximum risk - he gave his life. He chose to help others. He really didn't lose his life - he gave something back."
Because he did, it set him up with a treasure in Heaven, added Dr. Williams.
"The ball is in our court," said the longtime educator. "We've got to make hay while the sun's shining. It's time for us to change."
He urged the younger generation to study harder, show respect for others and to stop the killing of one another.
"That's got to go," said Dr. Williams.
He also discouraged watching so much television.
"Television will turn you into something we don't want," said Dr. Williams. "There's too much 'in-your-face' mentality."
Prior to Nikita Taylor, a senior at Paine College, introducing Dr. Williams, those attending the banquet were treated to music provided by Leonard Neal and Junie Samuels, as well the Vanderhorst CME Church Girls' Ensemble.
Two young church members, Montavious Brinson and Leslie Hampton, also provided special topics pertaining to Dr. King.
"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered a sermon on Feb. 4, 1968," said Mr. Brinson. "Now in order for you to understand the concept and to see the relationship to all of us, we must take a few moments to look at his topic and his text. He took his text from St. Mark - beginning with the 35th verse. This is where James and John came to Jesus, asking that they be given the right to sit on his right side and one on his left side.
"What is important is how Jesus responded to them - Dr. King tells us it was not in anger, nor did Jesus condemn them. He asks them a few questions and then goes on to tell them that whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all."
Mr. Brinson explained that while most of us would have condemned James and John "that we must, according to Dr. King, look at ourselves calmly and honestly. That same desire for attention - a desire to be out front - a desire to lead the parade - that desire to be first - is indeed in all of us and it is called, The Drum Major Instinct.
Miss Hampton, an eighth grader at Thomson-McDuffie Junior High School, said Dr. King and those who demonstrated with him "sought to desegregate the buses, lunch counters and the schools.
"Many saw it as a negative thing - as a way to destroy their lives," said Miss Hampton.