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Kitsap gathers to recall the dream

Several hundred people gathered at the Kitsap Pavilion Monday, Jan. 21, for a celebration of the life, memory and teachings of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The eighth-annual event was sponsored by the Kitsap County Commissioners, the city of Bremerton and the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church. It included musical performances and speeches by local religious and political leaders.

“Dr. King’s message was a message of violence within nonviolence,” said Bishop Larry Robertson of Emmanuel Apostolic Church at Embassy Center in Bremerton. “He was violent on injustice, bigotry, oppression, hatred and man’s inhumanity to man. And it was a message of extremism — he was extremely for peace, justice, truth, righteousness and love.

“We must remember his message, as it was a message of love. He left a legacy for all generations to come. People are better off today with the understanding of the contribution left by Dr. King.”

Poulsbo City Councilman Jim Henry recalled seeing King in 1964, while he was serving in the Navy in Hawaii.

“At that time, I was a young man full of anger — a devotee of Malcolm X,” said Henry, adding that he eventually came to understand King’s message of nonviolence. “In looking back over all these years, I think I made the right choice listening to Dr. King. If I had listened to Malcolm X, I probably would’ve ended up where he is.”

Henry said he has seen King’s message spread across the world.

“Dr. King put his mark on all of us,” Henry said. “The spirit is there and it goes on and on. We can’t let it die. The United States is its birthplace. If we can’t make it work than no place on earth can.”

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-6th District, made an unscheduled appearance at the ceremony. He is in the area to welcome home the USS Sacramento and USS Carl Vinson.

“I’m proud we have this national day to remember him, to remember his work and continue the fight,” Dicks said. “There is still a lot of work left to do in this society so every American enjoys the American dream. We need to take care of those in need, educate every single child and give everyone an opportunity to be like Martin Luther King Jr. was — a very distinguished man, a well-educated man.”

Dicks said he saw the problems of segregation during a trip to Florida during the mid-1950s.

“I’m proud of the fact we have seen so much done in our lifetime. He made the United States a better place to be and so should we,” Dicks said. “The fight isn’t over. We need to remember him but remember there is much that needs to be done.”

“We are truly blessed,” said Gwendolyn Shepherd, president of the Bremerton chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “We have the dream, the vision and the clear path for the future. We don’t have to look for any of these things as they have been given to us.”

Shepherd said the NAACP’s mission is two-fold — to protest and to serve.

“To protest without a vision is foolhardy. It is our hope to come together as a community to learn, to share and to grow in our understanding of love, truth and justice. We have that opportunity thanks to Dr. King,” Sheperd said.

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