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Luncheon celebrates life of Martin Luther King

Jan. 21, 1997

Matt Lester/The Baylor Lariat

Members of the Waco Ministerial Alliance along with other community leaders held a 'march for peace and justice' on Monday afternoon from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. The participants marched from 7th and James Baptist Church to 2nd Baptist Church.


By Robin Starnes

Lariat Reporter

In celebration of the life and birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., the University Department of Education sponsored the ninth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Luncheon Monday.

Guest speaker Shirley J. Knox-Benton, the principal of Dunbar High School in Fort Worth, suggested how Americans can continue King's dream in today's society.Knox-Benton claimed the best way to accomplish this was to view life with the attitude that nothing is impossible.

'The first effort that we must make is to overcome our own inadequacies, fears, limitations, and prejudices,' Knox-Benton said.

She said that to use misfortunes as an excuse for failure is a waste of time.

'While you're busy using segregation or misfortune as an excuse, good fortune passes you by,' Knox-Benton said.

Knox-Benton claimed that criticizing and blaming others was contrary to King's dream.

'The world is not going to change for us unless we choose to change it,' she said. 'That's what Dr. King would want for us. He died in an effort to show the world that there is a more peaceful way. We can share in that dream; we can latch onto the vision. Though different in appearance and mannerisms, we are all alike in spirit. What happens to one of us happens to all of us.'

Knox-Benton has applied this theory to her own life. She was orphaned at age eight but was adopted by an aunt and uncle who taught her to 'try, persevere and never say 'can't,' even when you're doomed for failure.'

Educated with tattered and torn books, Knox-Benton taught herself to be a well-rounded and well-read person. In 1995 she received the Number One Woman in the Workplace Award and was selected as first runner-up for the Texas Association Secondary School Principal of the Year. She was named National Woman of Distinction and was the first African American elected to office in the Texas Council of Women School Executives. She is now principal of Dunbar High School, one of the largest high schools in Texas.

She claimed that by applying what King taught in the past, Americans can improve the future.

'I believe that if Dr. Martin was here today, he would ask us to form a vision, ask us to forget those things which were behind and ask us to resolve to be a better person than we have been. No modern nation has so varied a people as we in America. The ingredients of the melting pot do, for the most part, blend. We have one identity -- we, the people. It will take all of us working together to make America stand. That was Dr. King's dream.'

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