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Rev. Billy Jenkins asked those gathered Sunday afternoon at Lebanon United Methodist Church to turn their Bibles to the Book of Esther.
In that passage, King Ahasuerus had plans to attack the Jews, but instead, the Jews defeated those who sought to harm them.
Just as God turned the tables on those who would attack his people, God is still helping to turn tables, Jenkins said to the audience at this year’s Martin Luther King Day program, hosted by the Marion County Chapter of the NAACP.
He gave another example from 1955 in Montgomery, Ala., when Rosa Parks got on a bus after a long day at work. The law said that Parks, an African-American, should give up her seat if white people were standing. In spite of this, when she was asked to move, she remained seated.
“Her refusal to give up her seat was an act of courage,” Jenkins said.
As it happened Martin Luther King Jr. had recently become a pastor in an Alabama church. Just days after Parks’ story had become news, King led an effort by African-Americans to boycott the buses in Montgomery, Jenkins said.
Ultimately, this would end up before the United State Supreme Court, which ruled that segregation on the buses was unconstitutional.
This was one step toward turning the tables in favor of civil rights for all, according to Jenkins.
Those steps were commemorated and remembered throughout Sunday’s events — in songs and prayers — starting with the United Concerned Citizens annual Dr. Martin Luther Jr. March.
Before the march began, Maria Bell, president of the UCCO, asked everyone to remember that those who took part in the civil rights movements did so because they wanted everyone to have a chance to receive a good education, to own a business and to vote.
“Let’s do these things that they fought so hard for us to have a right to do,” she said.
Marchers sang as they walked down Main Street and onto ML King Avenue before the program at the Methodist church.
Rev. Ken Jessee, the pastor of Lebanon United Methodist, welcomed everyone. In those remarks, he referred to his own life growing in Shively, where he remembered wondering why the black children couldn’t drink from the same water fountain that he could.
Jessee said things have changed for the better in a lot of ways, but there is still work to be done. He added that people can make the world better by following the Lord.
“Moses did that,” Jessee said. “Dr. King did that.”