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      I was speaking with the minister of my church the other day

      I was speaking with the minister of my church the other day and he stated simply that Martin Luther King Junior is one of the people in the world and history who holds his greatest admiration. Like one of the top two. All MLK wanted to be was a pastor of a church and minister to the congregation. He had no ambition or inclination to move into the incredible role he played in world history.

      HG Choirs are hosting a celebration of the life and mission of MLK on Monday, January 15 at the Wellsboro High School. We've invited all the school choirs in the county, all the civic choirs and some church choirs (I don't know how to reach every church in the county!) Each choir will sing two or three pieces (depending on how many choirs we end up with) and then all will join for a few songs. I'm hoping to have some visual/graphic/video representation at some point in the evening.

      I grew up during school months (I was here in Wellsboro every summer) in Pontiac Michigan, a school district that found itself embroiled with dissent in the late 60's over the issue of school bussing. My high school student body was about equal half black, half white. My high school class included 685 students. I can clearly remember heading to the third floor up the back staircase where we barricaded ourselves in the choral music office as we watched demonstrators clashing with police. What was scary was the spirit of intolerance and—I hesitate to label it as such—hate that was embodied by the spokesperson of the opponents of trying to make the educational system equal for all students. She was seen all over the national news and railed and ranted on and on.

      Our choir—which by the way sang at state music educators conferences; it was good—was directed by one of my choral mentors, Gilbert Jackson, a black man. Our choirs was completely integrated, primarily with black and white students, fewer Asian and Latino students. The power of music connected us all with no regard to race. (Our sports teams also were completely integrated; some may remember the Russell brothers who went on the pro basketball. Madonna came through the school district a few years later.)

      Then MLK was murdered. Many of the students in our school participated in an MLK walk. We Shall Overcome was part of the fabric of our existence in those days. We're singing that song at the MLK concert on January 15. Most kids today have never heard of it. Guess such an event is overdue.

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