‘What a wonderful legacy Dr Martin Luther King Jr left for all of us’
Schoolchildren yesterday gathered with Rena Lalgie, the Governor, to celebrate forgiveness and reconciliation in honour of the fallen civil rights icon the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
The ceremony in Hamilton coincided with the annual march for Dr King at the West End, held by the pupils of Dalton E Tucker Primary school in Southampton.
Martin Luther King Day is a US federal holiday in the United States marking the birthday of the campaigner for nonviolent political change.
Dr King, assassinated in 1968, was a man of “outstanding courage and conviction whose life and witness has had a lasting impact on our world”, the Right Reverend Ewen Ratteray told the gathering at the Anglican Cathedral.
“Our these today is reconciliation – a subject very dear to his heart, and to mine.”
But Bishop Ratteray highlighted the difficulty of forgiveness.
He recounted a “serious disagreement with one of my teachers” in his studies for the priesthood.
He recalled being taken aback and “impressed” the next day when the priest admitted his fault and apologised.
“That, in essence, is what reconciliation is about. It takes courage to admit being at fault – and being able to accept such an admission with good grace, and move forward, which is essential.
“Unresolved disagreements can and do cause people to be bitter and twisted, bent out of shape. Carrying such feelings in our hearts is damaging to everyone.”
He added: “There is a better way.”
Imam Saleem Talbot, of Islamic Cultural Centre Mosque, delivered a prayer on Dr King’s example during the event at the Anglican Cathedral.
The commemoration was organised by the community groups Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda, Imagine Bermuda, and Social Justice Bermuda.
Glenn Fubler, of Imagine Bermuda, emphasised that the hour of performances by students, accompanied by prayer and commentary, was “not a service but a celebration”.
He said it was important to understand “why we need to celebrate the life of this icon”.
Martha Dismont, the founder and former director of Family Centre, told attendees: “I guarantee that when you leave, you will be empowered.”
“This is about the opportunity to demonstrate and show love, compassion and authentic action in doing the right thing always because it’s always the right thing to do – reconcile, reconciliation, and one my favourites, forgiveness.”
Ms Dismont added: “What a wonderful legacy Dr Martin Luther King Jr left for all of us.
“He demonstrated courage, compassion and the demand for equality. We get to do the same thing every day, every moment, in our hearts.
“We have this wonderful opportunity to say that love is ever-present – and we can demonstrate it in everything we do.”
Jonathan Starling, speaking for Social Justice Bermuda, said Dr King’s example had also called for a righting of wrongs – noting the activist had urged a redistribution of political and economic power.
“To have reconciliation we need action, not words – to begin with, reparations for slavery and reparations for colonial atrocities. It also requires a change of behaviour from our colonial overlords.”
He called for an end for support for dictatorships around the world, as well as an end to “treating refugees abominably and treating the poor of the UK abominably”.