Tribune’s MLK Day 2021

January 16th, 2017 – Vanderbilt students and faculty gather to celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the annual MLK Day march in Nashville.

By Rev. Kelly Miller Smith Jr.

NASHVILLE, TN — On January 18, 2021 we will observe the national holiday for the birthday of one of the most significant human beings in American history, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (who was actually born January 15, 1929). There are many of us still living who have lived through the era of his life and and are witnesses to the contributions he made during his life. When we think of Dr. King we think of his teaching of patience, his resilience and his organizing.  His legacy is the framework of what we still build upon for justice and progress for all people.

We also think about his eloquence.  Though his most memorable speech is what is called the “I Have a Dream” speech, when one listens to the other speeches of King one is moved by the articulate cadence of a Black preacher, filled with the substance that inspires, energizes, challenges and motivates people.  He was the voice of those who were the voiceless.

Dr. King was no stranger to Nashville. He was a close friend of my father, as they were both alumnus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, and they

Rev. Kelly Miller Smith, Jr.

both had similar mindsets on how to address the issues of civil rights and and justice.  He spoke in our church building when were located on the corner of 8th Ave. and Charlotte Ave. (now Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Blvd.).  Also, the day after the bombing of the home of Atty. Z. Alexander Looby in April 1960, Dr. King was scheduled to speak in the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville.  But the city was afraid that someone may try to bomb the auditorium as well and refused to allow him to speak there.  Fisk University opened their gymnasium to be used instead.  King in that speech praised the Nashville sit-in movement as “the best organized and the most disciplined in the Southland.” He further stated that he came to Nashville “not to bring inspiration but to gain inspiration from the great movement that has taken place in this community.”

In reality Dr. King is viewed larger than life when you think about the fact that he lived to only be 39 years old, assassinated in 1968 in Memphis TN.  It is a testament, as he himself eluded to in his last public address, that “ Like anybody, I would like to live a long life—longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will…”

One of the great misnomers about King is that people often refer to him as a “civil rights leader.”  I think that does not fully express the mission of Dr. King.  He was a preacher first, and did was he did because he understood this to be God’s calling on his life.  And thus, he endured what he endured not because it was about making a name for himself, but about doing the Will of God.  And he was martyred for that same reason.  And we thank God for the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Pastor Smith is the pastor of First Baptist Church Capitol Hill, Nashville.


Tennessee MLK Celebrations in Stark Contrast to Domestic Terrorists Attack on U.S. Capitol

By Clint Confehr

NASHVILLE, TN — The newly-elected NAACP branch president here accepts and extends President-elect Joe Biden’s point about last week’s insurrection. It makes unification easier. The branch president says more Americans recognize complaints about racism are valid.

“Understanding seems to help us move forward to healing,” Sheryl Guinn said the day after her election to a post she’s held since succeeding

January 16th, 2017 – Vanderbilt students and faculty gather to celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the annual MLK Day march in Nashville.

two branch officials. “The more light that’s delivered to inequality makes people reflect … and realize there’s validity to complaints” about racism.

Biden was asked if the events made his job easier or harder. Easier, he replied. “My over-arching objective is to unify this country. There’re two ways people are inspired: by inspirational leaders; and by terrible leaders. What this president has done is rip the Band-Aid all the way off to let the country know who he is and what he’s about and how thoroughly unfit for office he is.”

Jan. 6, the soon-to-be former president whipped up his campaign rally-like crowd into a mob, saying he’d join them on Capitol Hill, but went to the White House and saw the Capitol invasion on TV.

Guinn said, “Sometimes people think that we are, with me being a Black person, that we are harping on the past. When things like that happen at the Capitol, people realize these things truly exist. It’s one part of the conversation that we don’t have to overcome. It’s not in the past.”

Preferring not to dwell on the past, Guinn said the Nashville branch has been through a “tumultuous” time.

The Nashville-based attorney won with 126 votes (52.3%). Her challenger, Dr. Judy Cummings, pastor at New Covenant Christian Church, got 115 votes.

Guinn said she wants to “turn over a new leaf and not condemn” previous leaders. However, she will seek an audit of branch funding as she consults with association members, Guinn said. Audits are a “normal course of business.” She advocates voter registration, citizen education and membership drives.

Cummings congratulated Guinn, adding “There are a lot of justice issues in Nashville that need to be addressed and I am sure you will organize the branch and assemble an amazing team to address each of them for the sake of our people!”

Election results show: Marilyn Brown, unopposed, was elected first vice president with 215 votes; Jackie Sims elected second vice president with 132 votes (56.9%) over Ludye Wallace’s 100 votes; and Vanita Lewis elected third vice president (51.5%) 120-113 over David Conner.

Unopposed, attorney Robin Kimbrough Hayes was elected branch secretary with 223 votes. With 225 votes, Dr. Blondell Strong was unopposed and elected assistant secretary.

Elizebeth Overton was unopposed for treasurer and received 209 votes. Also unopposed, Lisa Hammonds was elected assistant treasurer with 211 votes.

Elected branch executive committee members are Monet Brown, Nancy Cooper, Sonnye Dickson, Jacquelyn Favors, Brenda Gilmore, Patricia Goldthreate, Arnold Hayes, Betty Hardy Hines, Timothy Hughes, Charles Kimbrough, Dionne McClain-Smith, Annette Moore, Ronnie Whitney, Tara Williams, and Richard Wineland.

Voting was on-line from 7 a.m. Jan. 10 to 11:45 p.m. Jan. 10. There were 248 ballots submitted, or 54% of 461 eligible voters.

It was the third time the branch tried to elect officers. The first was stopped by officials of the Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP as it found irregularities attributed to one candidate. The second attempt was foiled by the Christmas morning explosion here that interrupted Internet service.


How Will You Make the World a Better Place?

By Sandra Long Weaver
ribune Editorial Director

I was lying across my bed listening to music on my white transistor radio when the DJ broke in with the news of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nearly 53 years ago.

I couldn’t believe it! I was 15 and Dr. King was a hero. How could this be? Just the night before, I had watched him give his speech from

Tennessee Tribune Editorial Director Sandra Long Weaver

Memphis about going to the mountaintop. “I may not get there with you,” he told the crowd.

And he didn’t. But he was supposed to lead all of us there.

I quickly ran downstairs see if it was on TV. My mother said it was true. He was a good man, she said. And now there were riots in some cities. People were angry about his violent death.

I got on the rotary phone with my friends and started talking about what all of this meant. Why did this happen?

We talked about it in school the next day too but no one had answers. But everyone was upset. What could we do? We  didn’t want to be involved in the looting and burning. But we wanted to do something. We ended up watching TV and writing an essay in English class.

Do you remember where you were on that fateful day and what you were doing when you learned Dr. King had been assassinated?

Watching the violent attempted takeover of the Capitol Building on Jan.6 and following the analysis for the last week, I can’t help but wonder if Dr. King were alive, how would he bring us together?

I know he would lead us in prayer.  But what else would he do?

We still don’t have all of the answers as to why Dr. King was murdered. And none of us knows what all of his reactions would be to the deadly riots.

But I am glad we have his birthday to celebrate. It has been a national holiday celebrated in all 50 states since 2000.

Let us honor Dr. King who preached non-violence and led peaceful protests against injustice. Let us reflect on what we can do to make the world a better place.