“We must overcome apathy, jealousy and immaturity in order to unite and move into a better future,” Tiffanie Hairston said Monday at the Spencer-Ridgeway Area Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Teach-in.
Hairston, a teacher at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School, made an oratorical presentation at the event, whose theme was “Celebrating 50 Years: Moving Forward in UNITY.”
The teach-in, at Mayo Missionary Baptist Church, covered
the life and legacy of King, struggles and accomplishments of the civil rights movement, and going forward, how to remove obstacles to fully achieving King’s dream.
About 130 people attended, according to Valeria Edwards, area coordinator. About 18 churches were represented.
On the obstacle of apathy, Hairston said, some people think, “Just let me do my thing, and you do yours. I don’t care to register and vote. I don’t care to go to a meeting about the condition of the road or unjust employment practices; I don’t care about helping anyone else out ... . Dr. King would disagree with apathetic people.”
Hairston added that jealous people may think, “I work just as hard as the (Joneses). Why can’t I get ahead? I hate the fact that I have to struggle and they have it so easy. It is not fair. I wish I had been left money or I wish I could get a job like theirs. They came over here and now they own everything. I should have gotten that job because I was a U.S. citizen.”
“Dr. King would argue that, especially now, we all have the same opportunities. I usually say to these people, ‘Get over it,’ and I believe Dr. King would tell them to push harder to achieve,” Hairston said.
She continued: “Last is immaturity: I can make it by myself. Anyone not like me does not deserve my attention. You and I do not need to unite or work together because I don’t need you to be successful. I don’t have to take a stand or get involved. That’s their problem. Dr. King would simply say, United we stand. Divided we fall. We can’t go back to the way it used to be.”
Others who made oratorical presentations were TaMier Hairston, a first-grader at Stanleytown Elementary; Chandler Carter, a third-grader at Carver Elementary; Cansez Bulgin, a sixth-grader at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle; and Sierra Vernon, a senior at Bassett High School.
“We live on hope,” Naomi Hodge-Muse, president of the Martinsville-Henry County NAACP, said during her remarks. “We can look back on our past and (see) we helped each other through it.”
She later said: “I walk through the blood of my ancestors. It was not free. It was not free. It was not free.”
Hodge-Muse mentioned Jesus’ teachings about the need to look out for one another, forgive over and over, and be kind to the less fortunate.
She said some people are too apathetic today to attend church. “You can’t live like a dog and not have fleas,” she said.
Hodge-Muse encouraged people to respect themselves, not to hate others, not to destroy their community and to get a good education. “An educated black person is a powerful person,” she said.
She told about a number of projects and causes in which the state and local NAACP have been successfully involved and said racism still exists but people should persist in their efforts to overcome barriers.
The Rev. Dwight Mack, pastor of Mayo Missionary Baptist Church, cited the need for people to be concerned about godly issues or causes. He cited the need for courage, commitment, communication, collaboration and prayer. People need to protect core values, build strong families, eliminate disunity or separatism, to not be discouraged by naysayers and to not let prosperity keep one from helping others.
He mentioned several civil rights and societal issues — some of which he said come from outside the black community and some within. He said they include George Zimmerman being acquitted in the Florida shooting death of Trayvon Martin and states that have stand-your-ground laws; the Supreme Court invalidating a key part of the Voting Rights Act; and some states’ implementation of additional voter ID restrictions. Others included an increase in black-on-black crime and an increase in single-parent homes, he said.
Deacon Bobby Wells of Meadow Christian Church recited King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
There was a service component of the teach-in: 20 blankets will be donated to local charities.
The event was co-hosted by Mayo Missionary Baptist Church and Meadow Christian Church. Sponsors included Antioch Baptist, Antioch Christian, Christian View Baptist, High Ridge Baptist, Mt. Olive East Christian, Mt. Zion Baptist, “Mtn. View” Missionary Baptist, New Hope Missionary Baptist, New Light Baptist and Shiloh Baptist (Fieldale). Several other churches were represented.
The Rev. Eugene Reynolds, interim pastor of Meadow Christian, suggested a committee be formed to involve white churches in the teach-in.