This week, the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship (IMF) wrapped up its 35th annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration.
Monday was the culmination of events with the annual march from Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church to the TSU Gentry center for the convocation.
“This is our first in person convocation since 2019, and we are very excited to be back in person,” said MLK Nashville Committee Chair Cheryl Mayes. “Our planning committee worked very hard over the last eight months to bring several amazing programs that included our inter-generational panel, fair housing discussion, the youth symposium, the women of faith panel, and today’s youth rally leading up to today’s convocation. This year’s theme, ‘Protecting the Dream: Confronting the Assaults,’ says so much about where we are in the world right now.”
The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, a globally renowned scholar of race, religion and contemporary culture. Dyson is currently a professor at Vanderbilt University where he holds the Centennial Chair and serves as University Distinguished Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and University Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Society in the Divinity School.
The theme of Dyson’s theme was ‘Stay Woke.’
“My brothers and sisters, given the brilliance of what you’ve already heard, I’ve come here to echo and reinforce what you’ve already heard,” said Dyson, making reference to the many dynamic speakers who proceeded him.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. was a dreamer, but he dreamed out loud and he dreamed awake. A lot of people try to freeze Dr. King in 1963 at the sunlit summit of expectation with which he mounted the rostrum there at Washington D.C. on August 28, and they chose that day because it was also the anniversary of the murder of Emmett Till. So on that day, this Black man, 34 years old, uttered 34 words that have become immortal in the annals of American memory.
“‘I have a dream, one day, my four little children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’
“And ever since then, people done messed that speech up. First of all, he said that it was a dream; it wasn’t no reality.
“So when folks remind us: ‘My God, you’re speaking about race again and that’s not what Dr. King wanted’—you ain’t heard the speech, homie. He said I have a dream, that one day, but that day ain’t arrived yet.”
The annual celebration is the largest citywide event in honor of the life and legacy of Dr. King, bringing thousands of attendees each year. Coverage of the event can be viewed on the IMF’s Facebook page at <www.facebook.com/mlkdaynashville>.