Learn about your heritage, speaker urges attendees at Gloucester MLK Day service

by Bill Nachman - Posted on Jan 23, 2013 - 01:37 PM

Photo: The Rev. Douglas Brown was the guest speaker at Monday’s King Day observance at the First United Baptist Church, White Marsh. Photo by Bill Nachman

The Rev. Douglas Brown was the guest speaker at Monday’s King Day observance at the First United Baptist Church, White Marsh. Photo by Bill Nachman

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached for unity to make the United States a better place—and his message holds up today, said the Rev. Douglas Brown.

Brown, associate minister of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Yorktown, was the featured speaker at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Service late Monday afternoon at the First United Baptist Church, White Marsh. The program was coordinated by the Gloucester Union Relief Association of Missionary Baptist, which is headed by the Rev. Dr. Elton Pryor, pastor of Zion Poplars Baptist Church in Gloucester.

King was a leader, Brown said, who put himself in harm’s way by standing up for social justice. There were many instances when King received late-night telephone calls threatening to kill him or to blow up his house, Brown said, but despite these threats, the civil rights leader stood strong.

Brown said that King was proud to be an African American and that he encouraged others of his race to learn about their history and to take active steps to improve conditions in the communities where they live.

Even today, Brown said, it is paramount for African Americans to learn about their heritage, starting right in their own communities. He said that Gloucester has a rich black history, including several historic churches with deep roots, the first slave insurrection in Virginia being planned here, and the importance of Irene Morgan refusing to give up her seat on a bus and her case eventually winding up in the U.S. Supreme Court with a ruling in her favor.

It is very important, Brown said, that blacks "know where we’ve come from and where we are going." He told the audience that they must push for better education for their children, speaking out to boards of supervisors, school boards, and state and national leaders in their continuing efforts to progress.