Not all African-Americans welcomed the help of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., historian Samuel W. Black said.
With a portrait of Martin Luther King in the foreground, Samuel Black, director of African-American programs at the Heinz History Center speaks to the crowd during the annual Martin Luther King service put on by the Allegheny Valley Association of Church and the Alle-Kiski NAACP at the Faith Lutheran Church in Harrison, Sunday January 27, 2013. Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
For example, said Black, director of African-American programs at the Heinz History Center, King went to Cleveland for a voter registration drive among African-Americans to help Carl Stokes become the city's first black mayor. However, Black's research uncovered that several black clergymen there did not want King's involvement.
Years later, while preparing to speak about his findings at a memorial service for King in Cleveland, Black realized that three of those ministers were on the podium with him. He quickly edited his speech.
"I didn't mention them by name, but I did cover the fact that (some) ministers opposed King," Black said with a smile. "But I was glad to see they came around to King's thinking."
Black was the keynote speaker on Sunday at the 46th annual Allegheny-Kiski Valley Memorial Service for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
About 40 people at Faith Lutheran Church in Harrison heard Black note that King's message of social justice and equality remains important. He said America leads all nations in incarcerating its citizens, the majority of them African-Americans; that education of American children continues to be a struggle; and that the wealthy continue to amass wealth while lower-income groups see their earnings dwindle.
Black said President Abraham Lincoln, King and thousands of others "put their lives on the line to uphold freedom.
"It is a tradition we must continue," he added.
He said continuing King's efforts and message is "how we continue to make this country a better place."
Continuing an appreciation of that and of what the civil rights movement did for all people might become a greater challenge for the Alle-Kiski Chapter of the NAACP and the Allegheny Valley Association of Churches. The two organizations sponsor the annual observance and raise money for scholarships to help African-American and needy high school students attend college.
Source: Trib Live | Tom Yerace