LIHUE — Kauai residents gathered at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church on Monday afternoon to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The event drew about 50 people from different walks of life who came together to sing, meditate, listen to speakers and celebrate Dr. King’s message of peace and equality.
“I’m a black person on Kauai, and it’s important to come to an event dedicated to Dr. King,” Barbara Mackey said, resting in the shade outside St. Michael’s church. For Mackey, the holiday carries a special significance.
On Aug. 28, 1963, 11-year-old Mackey sat on her uncle’s shoulders, looking out over a throng of people filling the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech from the foot of the Lincoln Memorial.
Decades later and thousands of miles away, the lasting impression of Dr. King’s address still resonates with Mackey, who said the ideas Dr. King dedicated his life to are just as relevant today as they were during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
She explained that Americans still have a long way to go in pursuit of racial equality but summed up her faith by referencing a centuries-old quote popularized by the slain civil rights leader — “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Pastor Alfred Rogers talked about the significance of Dr. King and his message, while waiting his turn to deliver a sermon to the congregation about the value of hope and love.
“Character is what changes a country,” Rogers said, explaining that in this day and age, it doesn’t matter what race or ethnicity or background people come from. “You have to go and foster an attitude of caring about the community.”
“It’s important to understand that one man’s dream only turned into reality when it became a prayer,” Rogers said.
Lily Alt, 16, was with her group from the Kauai Performing Arts Center to sing “God Help the Outcasts,” from the Disney musical, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
While waiting with friends outside the church, Alt was nervous about the upcoming performance but said, “I think that just shows I still care.”
Annaleah Atkinson, one of the organizers, is with Interfaith Roundtable, the organization that sponsored the celebration. Sitting near the front door of the church to welcome guests, Atkinson said this holiday is important because it emphasizes acceptance and inclusiveness.
“We feel like Martin Luther King Jr. and the Interfaith Roundtable have a lot in common — equality,” she said.