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Upstate leaders remember Martin Luther King, Jr.

Published on Sunday, January 17, 2021

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Greer City Councilman Wayne Griffin
 

Greer City Photo

Greer City Councilman Wayne Griffin

 



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Spartanburg County NAACP President and Spartanburg County Councilman Michael Brown.
 
 

Spartanburg NAACP Photo

Spartanburg County NAACP President and Spartanburg County Councilman Michael Brown.

 

 



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Alise Robinson is a senior Mass Communications major at the University of South Carolina Upstate.
 

Alise Robinson is a senior Mass Communications major at the University of South Carolina Upstate.

 

BY ALISE ROBINSON

Two Upstate leaders remembered Martin Luther King, Jr., for advancing civil rights through nonviolence, unselfishness, fairness and equality for everyone. The annual MLK Day is celebrated Monday, traditionally the third Monday in January.

Wayne Griffin, is a long-time Greer City Councilman who also champions MLK Day with an annual program at Greer City Hall. This year Griffin is still hosting the program but restricting in-person attendance to performers, speakers and sponsors.

One of King’s memorable quotes speaks about forgiveness. “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive,” King said. “He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love.”

Griffin gave his insight on what forgiveness achieves. “It allows you to live unburdened. My father didn’t raise us to have hate in our heart and taught us to treat people like we want to be treated,” Griffin said.

Michael Brown, President of the Spartanburg NAACP and member of Spartanburg County Council, said, “There has to be a redemptive spirit of trying to look towards the goodness of your fellow man.

“Forgiveness is something that we as a human society needs to do so we can all move on and feel better within ourselves. With forgiveness, there could be more peace in the world,” Brown said.

Griffin said King’s “I have a dream speech,” is historic because King knew he was going to die. “I think he knew what his destiny was ahead of time,” Griffin said.

A paragraph in King’s memorable speech reads, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Brown poignantly remembers a landmark day, Sept. 15, 1957, in the civil rights movement “I was involved with student government on our university board and I served with a man by the name of Chris McNair, his daughter was one of the four girls who passed away due to the result of the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham,” Brown said. “It left a mark on me knowing that someone has to try to live a life after losing a child because people connect a history with you based on the color of your skin.”

Griffin said, “I think it is something that we’re still striving for and it is an ideal dream where our children will live in a society where they are not judged by the color of their skin but of the content of their character.”

Brown and Griffin also had thoughts on Wednesday’s Inauguration Day when Joe Biden will be sworn in as president and Kamala Harris as vice president. The United States is not united, COVID-19 continues to surge, the Democrats and Republicans are bitterly opposed, and a riot on Capitol Hill last week has Washington, D.C., and the rest of the country on alert for the potential of more violence. African Americans were comparing the summer’s social injustice toward them compared to the far right groups and white nationalists who met little resistance during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Brown offered his thoughts on how the inauguration should be held. “To do it safely, you could continue to broadcast through the media, smartphones and computers. That would be the best way to have a unified broadcast that you can enjoy from the comfort of our home.

“I’m hopeful to know that President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ experiences, we can reform the criminal justice systems.”

Griffin, who has spent a lifetime in community and government service said, “I will take a wait and see approach.”

• Meet the author: Alise Robinson is a senior Mass Communications major at the University of South Carolina Upstate.

 

 

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