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Virtual Syracuse to Washington Connection Keeps MLK's Dream Alive and Well

John Smith / WAER News

A renowned Music Educator and African American Music Historian who lives in Syracuse joined her former church in Washington, DC virtually today with a Martin Luther King Day program she created in 1981.  Dr. Joan Hillsman invited essential workers all those years ago to New Southern Rock Baptist Church for lunch and to listen to recordings of MLK and to get them thinking about how they could put ‘the Dream’ in action.

“It’s a Day ON, not a day off!  Yes, it is.  For over 4 decades we want to say, again, we are still working on the dream.  Each year it goes larger and larger.  Won’t you enjoy in the comfort of your home or wherever you are as you sit and help us work on the dream.  This virtual experience and celebration is one that we must continue.  We know his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.  Read it constantly and add to your collections and what you’re doing to help this dream come true.  We SHALL overcome!”

The black community has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.  Associate Minister, Jessie Hobbs cited an analysis of more than 114,000 COVID-19 associated deaths reported to the National Vital Statistics System between May to August 2020.  It revealed that blacks accounted for more than 18.7 percent of all COVID deaths, despite blacks only representing 12.5 percent of the US population.  Hobbs is calling for leaders in Washington to provide healthcare access for all.  He also encouraged the community to continue to participate in elections during a critical time in America.

Credit John Smith / WAER News
Images of MLK were seen during the webcast from New Southern Rock Baptist Church in Washington, DC.

“Dr. Martin Luther worked to ensure that blacks could utilize their right to vote.  Therefore the black community can no longer sit back and say that voting doesn’t matter.”

Hobbs further emphasized the black community can make a difference in who represents them in the White House and in Congress.  To connect with Joan Hillsman and what's she's doing in our community and nationally, click here.  Incidentally, she is the mother of SU Women's Basketball "Coach Q," Quentin Hillsman. 

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.