This past Friday, over 100 friends, volunteers and Y associates gathered at the historic Druid Hill Y to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the 43rd consecutive year in which the Y has celebrated Dr. King’s legacy. The theme, taken from Dr. King’s deep and rich reservoir of words, was “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
This idea was expanded upon by our keynote speaker, Dr. Derek Musgrove, Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr. Musgrove, who grew up in West Baltimore, reflected that with all the strife and division in our country and around the globe, we seem to be at a particularly dark moment in history. He reminded us that, while Dr. King is often remembered for his “mountain top moments,” it’s also important to take note of how Dr. King reacted and thrived during his lowest moments. He approached the challenges of his times by responding frankly, coolly and honestly. He refused to give up in despair as he knew that a sense of hope was critical to success. When faced with challenges, Dr. King would alter his strategy and move forward. Dr. Musgrove urged us all to have faith in the future and draw deep on the well of hope, just as Martin Luther King did, but with clear eyes and minds.
The breakfast was appropriately enriched and enlivened by many young people, expressing their own sense of hope and determination through impressive and varied demonstrations of talent and potential. We were dazzled by them all: a jazz performance by a group of impressive teens from OrchKids, an organization designed to nurture promising musical futures for Baltimore City youth, under the auspices of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; a reading of the reflective William Ernest Henley poem “Invictus” by one of the Druid Hill Y’s many young devotees, William Mitchell; a spirited display of African drumming by elementary school students from the Y’s after school program at Waverly Elementary and Middle School; and a great job of ushering guests into the gymnasium by the young men of Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys (formed to support young men of color).
Y volunteer Andrea Garris-Jackson gave out awards to several of our amazingly generous and committed corporate partners:-McCormick Flavor Life, Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital’s Community Relations Department, JCPenny and M&T Bank Corporation.
While change is an inevitable and necessary part of life, our annual tribute to Dr. King is one longstanding tradition which is firmly rooted in our organizational ethos. It’s an important opportunity to step back and think about our values and aspirations as a Y and as a community. In a time when so much of our collective conversation is focused on barriers, I am particularly proud that the Y is about ensuring that everyone can come in, and not about locking them out. It is only through dialogue, a relentless focus on inclusion and the removal of barriers, and a desire to solve the intractable problems that have historically prevented us from achieving a truly representative democracy and society, that we move our community and country forward.
Many thanks to the Y’s Baltimore City Community Leadership Board volunteers and associates who helped make this warm and important event possible.
All the best,
John K. Hoey
President & CEO
The Y in Central Maryland