By Nicole Cato
Staff Writer, ’15, Spanish
LaGrange College recently hosted two cultural enrichment events with speakers Reverend Otis Moss, Jr. and Reverend Olu Brown, who both shared the message of Martin Luther King, Jr. In celebration of Black History Month, The Hilltop News looks back to the words of these inspirational speakers.
Moss came to speak at LaGrange College on January 21st at “The Dream is in Our Hands” CE, which celebrated MLK Day. A LaGrange native and nationally renowned civic leader, Moss also shared a close relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr. himself, and implored his large audience to own Dr. King’s dream.
Although Reverend Moss called for a moment of silence to honor Dr. King, the recently-deceased Nelson Mandela, and all other civil rights activists, the audience enjoyed laughter many times over. Moss captivated the crowd with eloquence marked by humor.
“The dream is in our hands,” he said, declaring that the “dream” described in Dr. King’s speech does not belong to King himself or his contemporaries. Rather, proposed Moss, the dream journeys from generation to generation; it is any fleeting moment and what one does with it.
He urged everyone to make a positive difference in the world in their time on earth. At his request, every one held both of their hands up and recited, “In my time and in my space, by God’s grace, I can make a difference.” He concluded by directing the audience to cross their arms across their chests, while reciting the same statement.
Knowing Moss had known Martin Luther King Jr. personally, his listeners were eager to learn the accord between the two.
When allowed to ask questions at the end, one guest asked him to describe his bond with the famous civil rights leader. He responded that it was a “brotherly, familial relationship.”
After the event, Moss himself came across as brotherly and familial, as he stayed long enough to meet with any of his audience members that wanted to greet him. He greeted them warmly, shook their hands with a sincere smile, and embraced them for photos.
A second speaker, Reverend Olu Brown, founder and lead pastor of Atlanta’s United Methodist Impact Church, came to share another powerful message related to MLK on February 4th, when he hosted the “Moral Courage” CE event in the chapel.
To begin, students welcomed Mr. Brown in their singing of the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” led by freshman Jalen Smith and senior Alyese Wilkerson.
Vice President for Spiritual Life and Church Relations, Reverend Dr. Quincy Brown, introduced the guest speaker as a revolutionary that “does things differently.” Reverend Olu Brown took it upon himself to meet and greet a few of the students in the pews.
After taking to the altar, he captivated the crowd with a friendly demeanor that encouraged the audience’s participation and expressed gratitude for their attendance. “It’s just a blessing to be here today,” he opened, and prayed, thanking God for the opportunity.
Continuing, he quoted from Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, reciting, “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”
He spoke of how more than fifty years ago, at the nation’s capital, Martin Luther King Jr. shared “a wonderful dream experience” with us all. He emphasized how so many other civil rights activists have had the same dream, fighting for not just African Americans but for women, for the global community, and for the American community.
All this in mind, Brown challenged, “What is your dream? What is your dream for your education? What is your dream for your life? What is your dream for your career? What is your dream for a future family? What is your dream to live and to have a life that is life-abundant? What is your dream?”
He went on to proclaim that a lot of young people today are not dreaming and that it is better to dream and fail than to not dream at all. In the reverend’s words, “If I had the choice to dream or exist, I would choose to dream every day of my life.”
Brown stressed that dreams don’t come from inheritance but through hard work and perseverance and questioned each individual audience member’s purpose, pointing out that many lived for their parents, significant others, or for grades and a career. Ultimately, he preached that, in the end, “it is with God in your heart that you discover your destiny,” and urged his audience to find and reach for their dreams, in spite of opposition.
To illustrate this important principle, he pulled three young men from the pews and stood in a pew to raise himself above them, declaring, “Sometimes you have to elevate yourself beyond the crowd.” He elaborated, “If you want to do something great, it’s going to cost you” and that, when it comes to dreams, people need to “take their seat belts off” and not let others inhibit their futures.
He quoted the following from Martin Luther King Jr.’s book Strength to Love:
“Most people and Christians in particular are thermometers that record or register the temperature of the majority of people not thermostats that transform and regulate the temperature of society.”
He inspired the members of his audience to have the moral courage to follow their dreams and to better the world before closing in prayer on behalf of God’s grace to allow them to do so.
The undying message of Martin Luther King, Jr. to be remembered this Black History Month—to never give up on making a difference—resonated within the walls of both the Dickson Assembly Room and the chapel when LaGrange College welcomed Reverends Moss and Brown to extend this important message to students.