Now is the time – not in the future, not tomorrow but today – to do the work that the civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for in his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech, said Rev. Demetris Crum on Monday at Gateway Technical College.
Crum, the keynote speaker for the college’s 30th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, said the theme of this year’s event – the time is now – is particularly relevant for society to hear today.
"Inherent to this theory is attention, that action is needed and further progress," said Crum, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Kenosha. "Inherent to this time is a call to everyone who is talking about a better day, to do better and to do the work that is needed to realize a better day because that time is now.".
Crum said society needs to move forward with fulfilling King’s dream now, today, more than ever before. He urged the audience to action, saying that talking about King's dream is different than working to achieve it.
"Have we gotten something wrong? Have we failed to interpret King's heart? Or have we carefully, cunningly and masterfully discarded and diluted the true meaning of the dream?" said Crum.
"It is time to put the plan into action … the time is now to achieve the dream in its totality. We can celebrate the successes, but we need to keep our eyes on the goal."
Others speaking at the event offered similar thoughts to Crum.
"As we commemorate Dr. King today, let us reflect on the progress we have made and the work that still lies ahead," said Jacqueline Morris, Gateway vice president, Talent and Culture. "Let us be inspired by his courage and determination to address the challenges of our time with a commitment to justice, equality and understanding.
"In honoring Dr. King, we not only pay tribute to a remarkable leader but also reaffirm our collective responsibility to uphold the values he championed."
Gateway's Humanitarians, Nakeyda Haymer and Ronald Tatum, were also honored at the event for their work to serve others.
Haymer is the Wisconsin state director of Voices of Black Mothers United and is Racine's Violent Crime Reduction coordinator.
Haymer suffered the loss of her own brother who was killed in 2017 and has channeled that pain to be a support system to people in the community who have recently lost loved ones to violence. Some of the events she has organized or assisted with are Bigger than Basketball, a community event to honor lost loved ones, National Day of Concern - Student Pledge to Stop Gun Violence, Wear Orange Rally to End Violence and remembrance brunches during the holiday season in Racine for families who have lost a loved one to violence.
Haymer's nominator says "she believes in healing communities from within instead of leaning towards a top-down solution to violence."
Tatum is the executive director at Kenosha Area Family and Aging Services, Inc. Tatum created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee to work on ways to ensure KAFASI always is a workplace which embraces those tenets. Staff members say that his goal for staff at the agency is that they are better able to reach out to marginalized members of the community and provide them with service they need.
"He is a patient, kind and knowledgeable teacher/boss who helps open the hearts and minds of those he oversees," say his nominators. "He looks for opportunities to help us all embrace the differences and unique qualities we bring to our roles. He celebrates us when we succeed and guides us through rough patches. He believes in peaceful resolutions to conflicts, always with an eye on how to increase our cultural awareness and inclusion.
"He exemplifies the meaning of ‘servant leader’ and has taken KAFASI into a new direction of diversion, equity and inclusion."
Gateway also recognized the 2024 Dreamkeepers, K-12 students who received recognition for their social justice efforts from their schools