Bahamas Recognized During Atlanta King Center ‘I Have A Dream’ Speech 50th Anniversary Celebrations
Story and Photos by Arthia Nixon, Press Secretary
Bahamas Consulate General Atlanta
(Atlanta, Georgia) While their Prime Minister Perry Christie brought greetings in Washington, representatives from the Bahamas Consulate with responsibility for Georgia took time out to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr by celebrating the anniversary of his I Have A Dream speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church within The King Center.
As the service commenced, it was noted that a portion of the speech was drafted in The Bahamas where Dr King spent many vacations and also relaxed prior to accepting his Nobel Peace Prize.
Prior to the congregation sitting in silence as freedom bells were rung in sync with the bells in Washington, Rev. Michael S. Wortham, who is now one of the historic church’s pastors, charged visitors to remember the dream and continue the fight.
“What’s necessary today is that we scream to our brothers and sisters of every hue and every kind to wake up!” he said in a passionate address. “Wake up to the fierce urgency of now. For now is the time to realize that America may have put more money into the account, however, the check of promissory has still been returned marked insufficient funds.”
The sanctuary, which is restored to its original state, displays the organ Albertha Williams King was playing at the time of her assassination on June 30, 1974. A block away, the house in which she birthed her famous son stands, the interior of which seems frozen in time.
“It is a little known fact that a portion of that speech was written on the island of Bimini in The Bahamas,” said Randy Rolle, Consul General to Georgia and surrounding states. “Despite all of the challenges he faced in the United States at the time in which he was most well known, he found a place to relax and compose his thoughts in The Bahamas. The country prides itself in Ansel Saunders, the Bimini fisherman who led Dr. King through the mangroves as he found tranquility upon the waters. I found it amazing when I went to view the final resting place, that Dr. King is eternally at peace, surrounded by peaceful waters.”
“Today is certainly one that stirs me as I am from Bimini, the small island just 60 miles away from Florida where a portion of the I Have A Dream speech was drafted,” he reflected. “With Dr. King being just one year older than I am now at the time of his assassination and Sir Lynden Pindling being in his mid-30’s at the time he was elected to lead the new independent Bahamas, it certainly sets a standard for young men and women to lift up their heads and push toward a common loftier goal, as we sing in our national anthem. Today’s generation of leaders must rise to the occasion and focus on the teachings of Dr. King to make themselves and their communities a much better place.”
Before service, Rolle toured the museum and viewed the carriage that pulled Dr. King’s coffin. He also strolled along the Walk of Fame and took a moment to pay respect at the tile of the first Bahamian Prime Minister, the late Sir Lynden Pindling who attended the March On Washington. Other Bahamians on the Walk of Fame are Sir Sidney Poitier and Neil C. Ellis.
Joining Mr. Rolle was Robert Pinder, Cultural Affairs and Student Relations Officer who had the opportunity to speak to Channel 2 Atlanta reporter Carl Willis, whose family has a connection to Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera.
“The Bimini Museum tells the story and actually has Dr. King’s tourist immigration card,” he noted. “We also recently placed a monument in the mangroves Dr. King loved so much. It is not just a part of our history but also a part of our culture. While our Prime Minister, the Hon. Perry Christie is in Washington, D.C. along with a display of Junkanoo, our version of carnival, we are here at King Center celebrating the speech and its iconic author.”
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