To celebrate Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 17, The Unitarian Church in Summit will present a reading of Dr. King’s speech March 25, 1965, at the conclusion of the historic Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
The program begins at 11 a.m., and the public is warmly invited. Seven readers will participate, under the direction of Arthur Perkins of the church’s Racial Justice Task Force. The congregation’s choir will sing, and a discussion will follow.
The community is also invited to help Fill Ed Huberman’s Box, an ongoing drive to help combat hunger. Anyone interested is asked to bring bags of canned goods and other non-perishable groceries to the church lobby between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Members of the church's Youth Group will be on hand to receive the food, which will be donated to the Helping Hands and Ears Food Pantry in East Orange.
The Unitarian programs are part of Summit’s 13th annual MLK Day of Service, sponsored by Shaping Summit Together.
The Montgomery speech, known as “How Long, Not Long,” reviews the history of the Jim Crow laws that mandated racial segregation in schools, buses and other public facilities, even drinking fountains. King eloquently urges marchers to continue their nonviolent tactics to bring about “a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”
“How long will it take?” he asks. Not long, “because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
The speech has a unique resonance for Unitarian-Universalists in mentioning UU minister James Reeb of Boston, who responded to Dr. King’s call for support in Selma. Walking along a local street, Reeb and two other UU ministers were beaten by a group of white men. Reeb died two days later, and Dr. King preached at his funeral.
Another UU member, Viola Liuzzo of Detroit, was shot to death by members of the KKK as she drove marchers back to Selma after the speech in Montgomery.
UU members and friends of the Summit congregation have volunteered to read the speech. They include Tom Howard, Summit board president, Jean Crichton, Babi Lawrence, Melvyn Polatchek, Mia Morse, Bola Lawrence, Jessiey Ken-Kwofie and Ajorie Henry.
For further information, contact the church at (908) 273-3245 or visit the website at www.ucsummit.org.