We speak of the Rev. Vincent Jackson, program manager for First Helping Street Outreach at D.C. Central Kitchen in Washington, D.C., who will deliver the keynote address at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Keeper Award Ceremony on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Lee University Dixon Center.
We speak as well of Ronald Harris, head of Corporate Diversity at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, who will deliver the keynote address at the Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Community Breakfast on Saturday at 9 a.m. in the Cleveland State Community College Foundation Room in the Student Center.
Both are eloquent orators.
Both are inspiring and motivational speakers.
Both understand the message they bring and its importance to the masses — to all people, not just African-American people, not just white people, not just minorities of specific persuasions, but all people who live within our blessed community, who breathe the same air, who dine in the same restaurants, who enjoy the same pastimes, who love and who live to be loved, who laugh, who cry, who dream, and who believe in the same basic doctrines of humanity; those being life, liberty, an uncompromised justice for all, an unconditional pursuit of happiness and a keen insight into sensitivity, tolerance and diversity.
We welcome Jackson and we welcome Harris as bearers of great news.
We welcome each as ...
Our collective conscience.
And as our very, very special guests.
They would tell us they are no more special than any among the more than 100,000 who call Cleveland and Bradley County their home.
Yet, they are special.
Because they arrive on a special mission.
With a special tone.
And a special clarity.
Yes, they are special because they bring us remembrance of who we are, why we are here and the many reasons we should nurture our dependence upon one another.
Yes, they are special because they bring us hope.
They bring us wisdom.
And they bring us love.
It is not just any love. It is in tribute to a love whose physical life ended 43 years ago but whose vision lived on and will continue to live on as long as mankind remembers his ultimate sacrifice and the dream he dared to dream, not for himself but for others who followed in his footsteps.
We thank the Minister’s Fellowship of Cleveland and Bradley County, 100 Black Men of Bradley County Inc. and Lee University for bringing the Rev. Vincent Jackson to us.
We thank the Tau Eta Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and Cleveland State Community College for bringing us Ronald Harris.
We thank the Bradley County Chapter of the NAACP for bringing both.
These are good times in our community.
These are kindred observances in our hometown.
We encourage your presence.
With warm hearts.
And open minds.