By Kimani Hamilton
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassination and the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, InspireNOLA Charter Schools and The Alliance for Diversity and Excellence hosted Dr. Bernice A. King, the daughter of Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the Keynote Speaker at “Project Live and Active Rally For Excellence.” Congressman Cedric Richmond, Radio Host Angela Yee, and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette joined King at the rally that took place on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, at Xavier University of Louisiana’s Convocation Center.
“No matter what your situation, no matter what your circumstance, you can bring something positive out of a challenging situation, but it takes work, it takes focus, and it takes being intentional,” King said as she addressed the rally.
Her father was assassinated when she was 5-years-old, her grandmother was shot in church while reciting The Lord’s Prayer, and she was raised by a single parent. She compared building up a strong immune system to resist the flu to building up a strong sense of self and mind to resist negativity.
“You have to guard and protect your mind because it can be taken over, and contaminated, and it can make your mind become sick and it becomes an epidemic,” King said.
She told the students that they must also be careful about what they allowed to come into their mind through their ears; through games, videos, and conversations.
“You gotta protect your ears from what other people’s opinions are concerning you,” King said.
Everyone has a purpose, King said, and she urged students not to try to be someone else, but themselves. “Tell yourself that you are somebody,” she said. “You were born as a solution to the problem and an answer to the question.”
She encouraged young people to take initiative to create the future they want or to bring change into the world.
“In this life, you can’t wait on anybody else to do for you what you can do for yourself. You gotta take commission, you gotta take the lead,” she added.
When Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem, Congressman Cedric Richmond told the students that Fournette was concerned about the future of the next generation and their communities.
“Out of all the criticism, he never forgot where he came from,” Richmond said.
“When Dr. King marched, it wasn’t popular, most of the country thought he was a troublemaker, but he did it because he was concerned about my future,” Richmond added.
King is still relevant today, Richmond said, not just because he had a dream, but because he had faith, courage, and he also sacrificed to follow and achieve his dream.
“And because of Dr. King’s work, he brought together White people, Black people, all kinds of people to make this such a more perfect union. In fact, he redeemed this country’s soul,” Richmond said.
Other speakers at the rally encouraged the students in the crowd to work hard for what they want.
“You have to know that things don’t happen overnight,” said Yee, who has been working in the radio business for about 24 years.
“Sometimes we see people have success and we think that it happened overnight, but we don’t see the grind that went into that for years and years and years,” Yee said of her experience at The Breakfast Club.
Yee urged the students to surround themselves with people who see their potential even when they do not see it themselves. Like Yee, Fournette encouraged the students to keep their grades up and to ensure they graduated from high school.
“Don’t let your wrongs outdo your rights,” Fournette said.